The city sits on the low-lying alluvial plain near the mouth of Asia’s longest river, the Yangtze. In the past, Shanghai has sunk due to ground-water pumping to support its rapid growth and industrialisation. Now, scientists say, its vulnerability could be compounded by skyscrapers causing further sinking as melting polar ice increases sea levels.
"The rising sea level is a worldwide problem, caused by global warming," said Wang Pinxian of the China Academy of Sciences, "but Shanghai and Tianjin, among China’s coastal cities, face the biggest challenge, mainly because of land subsidence." Wang, a professor of ocean geology at Tongji University in Shanghai, made his comments as part of the Reuters Global Environment Summit.
Other researchers believe that high-rise construction will lead to only minor land subsidence, which can be limited by technical innovations.
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