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Time to Redo Your Hazard Risk Assessment? New Report and Maps Reveal Rising Sea Levels Threaten Millions by Boosting Storm Surges

March 20, 2012

A new report issued last week reveals that sea level rise due to climate change has already doubled the annual risk of coastal flooding of historic proportions across widespread areas of the United States.  This report, issued by Climate Central notes that by 2030, many locations are likely to see storm surges combining with sea level rise to raise waters at least 4 feet above the local high-tide line.

Who is impacted by this?? Turns out a lot! Nearly 5 million U.S. residents live in 2.6 million homes on land below this level. More than 6 million people live on land below 5 feet; by 2050, the study projects that widespread areas will experience coastal floods exceeding this higher level.

The report, titled “Surging Seas” is the first to analyze how sea level rise caused by global warming is compounding the risk from storm surges throughout the coastal contiguous U.S. It is also first to generate local and national estimates of the land, housing and population in vulnerable low-lying areas, and associate this information with flood risk timelines. The Surging Seas website includes a searchable, interactive online map that zooms down to neighborhood level, and shows risk zones and statistics for 3,000 coastal towns, cities, counties and states affected up to 10 feet above the high tide line.

In 285 municipalities, more than half the population lives below the 4-foot mark. One hundred and six of these places are in Florida, 65 are in Louisiana, and ten or more are in New York (13), New Jersey (22), Maryland (14), Virginia (10) and North Carolina (22). In 676 towns and cities spread across every coastal state in the lower 48 except Maine and Pennsylvania, more than 10% of the population lives below the 4-foot mark.

The website has very simple, searchable maps.  Check it out and note your business and home locations and begin rethinking your strategies now.  Might be a good time to sell!

http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/

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