NZ cities sink below rising sea in interactive map

New Zealand city sea ocean water dunedin (Getty)
It shows predicted sea level rise based on temperature increases between 0.5degC and 4degC (Getty / file)

How will a country such as New Zealand, with a number of coastal cities, cope with rising sea levels from a heating world?

An interactive map built to promote Before The Flood, a climate change documentary by actor Leonardo di Caprio and National Geographic, has made that question accessible to the public.

It shows predicted sea level rise based on temperature increases between 0.5degC and 4degC, ranging between an increase of 0.7m and 8.9m.

"Every fraction of a degree of global warming sets in motion sea level rise that will profoundly threaten coastal cities across the world," said Benjamin Strauss, vice president for sea level and climate impacts at Climate Central.

A number of countries have committed to a limit of 2degC rise as part of the Paris Agreement.

But according to the data displayed by National Geographic, the resulting rise in sea level would still endanger a number of our coastal cities, including parts of Christchurch, Blenheim, Dunedin and Napier.

rising sea level interactive map

Higher temperatures lead to even worse damage, with some of our cities predicted to be wiped out by the 8.9m rise resulting from a 4degC increase.

Mr Strauss says the map shows the "incredible stakes and urgency of our climate choice".

"The calamity that would follow 4degC warming - close to our current path - or the much more manageable consequences if we limit warming to 2 or 1.5 degrees."

rising sea level interactive map

Victoria University's Professor Tim Naish previously told Newshub current data indicates we're potentially looking at a 2m rise by 2100.

National Geographic's map does not include a time frame, nor what impact possible melting of Antarctica's ice sheets could have.

"Earth is heating up faster than it has in tens of millions of years - so it is difficult to know exactly what to expect," Mr Strauss said.

"Since we have already warmed the planet more than 1degC, many feet of sea level rise are already in the pipeline beyond what we see today."