Land area where elevation is below 5 meters (% of total land area)

Definition: Land area below 5m is the percentage of total land where the elevation is 5 meters or less.

Description: The map below shows how Land area where elevation is below 5 meters (% of total land area) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Netherlands, with a value of 55.56. The country with the lowest value in the world is Malawi, with a value of 0.00.

Source: Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)/Columbia University. 2013. Urban-Rural Population and Land Area Estimates Version 2. Palisades, NY: NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC).

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Scientists use the terms climate change and global warming to refer to the gradual increase in the Earth's surface temperature that has accelerated since the industrial revolution and especially over the past two decades. Most global warming has been caused by human activities that have changed the chemical composition of the atmosphere through a buildup of greenhouse gases - primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Rising global temperatures will cause sea level rise and alter local climate conditions, affecting forests, crop yields, and water supplies, and may affect human health, animals, and many types of ecosystems.

Limitations and Exceptions: The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) assessment report concluded that global warming is “unequivocal” and gave the strongest warning yet about the role of human activities. The report estimated that sea levels would rise approximately 49 centimeters over the next 100 years, with a range of uncertainty of 20–86 centimeters. That will lead to increased coastal flooding through direct inundation and a higher base for storm surges, allowing flooding of larger areas and higher elevations. Climate model simulations predict an increase in average surface air temperature of about 2.5°C by 2100 (Kattenberg and others 1996) and increase of “killer” heat waves during the warm season (Karl and others 1997).

Statistical Concept and Methodology: Elevation data used to generate the low elevation coastal zones come from the SRTM3 Enhanced Global Map developed by ISCIENCES. The ISCIENCES digital elevation model was created using NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data processed to 3 arc-seconds (SRTM3).

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual