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Articles by Michael Allen

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This story was originally published by Hakai Magazine and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In the next few years, Indonesia will start moving its capital city from one island, Java, to another, Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo. There are a few reasons for the move, but one of the biggest is that the country’s current capital, Jakarta, is sinking at an alarming rate. By the middle of this century, one-third of the city will be underwater.

It would be easy to mistake Jakarta’s pending demise as the work of sea level rise. Yet the city’s decline is actually being driven by another force — land subsidence spurred by groundwater extraction.

Projections of sea level rise have put a countdown on several coastal cities. But a new study shows that the combination of coastal subsidence and sea level rise acts like a welcome mat for water. Using satellite data, the researchers measured subsidence rates in 99 coastal cities around the world. They found that most are sinking faster than sea levels are rising. In many cities, such as Manila in the Philippines, Tampa in Florida, and Alexandria in Egyp... Read more