Jan 31st, 2016, 04:41 PM

Six Disappearing Cities to See this Semester

By Jenna Nellis
Image credit: Pixabay/DariuszSankowski
Make sure your travel plans include these six cities.

A bug is going around, and it's not the flu. With Spring Break just around the corner and weekend holidays coming up quickly, the travel bug is active and itching new, visiting, and returning students alike. Before reserving a flight or booking an Airbnb, there may be a few extra factors to keep in mind. What if the city you want to skip is about to disappear? As dooms-day-esque as that may sound, changing climates and economies will altar the landscape and layout of these iconic cities in the next 100 years. 

1 - Venice, Italy

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore...." Gondolas, romance, pizza pies. This is Venice. At some point, riding a gondola pushed by an Italian with a striped shirt appears on everyone's bucket list. Unfortunately, year after year Venice sits at the core of the climate change debate as it battles sea level rise. By the end of the century, Climatologists say that global sea levels will rise 60cm. Not only are sea levels rising, but at the same time Venice is sinking and slowly titling to the east, causing the city to be uninhabitable by 2100. 

2 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

This famous Dutch university city currently rests below sea level, and has for centuries. Floating neighborhoods and intricate water canals allow the 600,000 residents to operate this system smoothly. Before climate change is even calculated, however, The Netherlands (or "lower lands") risk flooding. Through innovative sponging and water storage design, the city is preparing for the upcoming water-rise. Rotterdam, as we know it, will disappear. The process of its climate change adaptation is worth witnessing. 

3 - London, England

Eating fish and chips, riding a trolley, and gazing at Big Ben (preferably all-at-once), is the dream of most tourists when visiting London. But, what if the sights and sounds of the city were impossible to make out through the toxic and polluted air quality? As a result of long term exposure, nearly 9,500 people die each year. Clean-up efforts to treat the problem are underway, but as the city continues to grow, so does the pollution. Just eight days into 2016, London exceeded its air pollution limits for the entire year. Although the UK continues to announce plans for change, the effectiveness of these plans are yet to be determined. 

4 - Ivanovo, Russia 

If you wish to travel a little further this semester, look no further than this Russian city on the brink of disappearing. Initially a major textile center, the city attracted women hoping to find independent work. Because of the unbalanced gender ratio, it became known as the "The City of Brides." But due to the rising textile competition in China and the breakup of the Soviet Union, the once thriving city is now on a rapid decline. Youth are leaving the city to seek better prospects elsewhere, and Ivanovo, Russia is heading towards extinction.

5 - Bangkok, Thailand

If Russia is not far enough, how about Thailand? Known by many as "the new Venice," Bangkok is sinking as sea levels rise and is arguably the most rapidly disappearing city in the world. Like Venice, it was established on a muddy flat only 10 to 15 feet above sea level. Although this causes buildings to sink significantly each year, the major problem is the lack of drinking water. Underground aquifers supply the city with fresh drinking water, but these are not easily replenished as the rainwater cannot penetrate the hardscapes of the city. Modest estimates give Bangkok 100 years before it is completely submerged, but this could happen as soon as 2030. 

6 - Naples, Italy

As one of the largest metropolitan areas along the Mediterranean Sea, Naples is a place of rich culture and historic significance (hosting such wonders as the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii). Although not at risk of a watery death, Naples sits next to a ticking time bomb: Mount Vesuvius. The eruption of this volcano that destroyed Pompeii in 79 BC occurs every every 100 years. This puts Naples and its half a million inhabitants in the "red zone" for the mid-2000s.