Study: 5 million face increased flooding risk
Floodwaters covered parts of Louisiana this week.
March 14th, 2012
10:26 AM ET

Study: 5 million face increased flooding risk

Rising sea levels combined with storm surges will put more than 5 million people on U.S. coastlines at risk of flooding during the next 30 years, according to new research.

The combination could raise sea levels during storms to 4 feet above the high-tide line, threatening property that contains 2.6 million homes on 3 million acres of land, according to the report released Wednesday by Climate Central, a nonprofit research and journalism organization based in New Jersey.

“Escalating floods from sea level rise will affect millions of people, and threaten countless billions of dollars of damage to buildings and infrastructure,” Climate Central's Ben Strauss, the lead author of the report, said in a statement.

The report, titled "Surging Seas," is based on two new peer-reviewed studies, both published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Climate Central calls it "the first major national analysis of sea level rise in 20 years."

It says the odds of once-in-100-years flooding hitting regions of the coastal U.S. have more than doubled.

“Just a small amount of sea level rise, including what we may well see within the next 20 years, can turn yesterday’s manageable flood into tomorrow’s potential disaster," Strauss said in a statement.

The report takes flood analysis down to the local level. In 285 coastal cities and towns, half the population lives below that 4-foot mark, it says. Florida faces the biggest threat from the coastal flooding, according to the researchers.

"A preliminary independent analysis suggests about $30 billion in taxable property is vulnerable below the 3-foot line in just three counties in southeast Florida, not including the county with the most homes at risk in the state and the nation, Miami-Dade," a summary of the report says.

Other states facing substantial risk are Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, New York and Virginia, the report says. The report includes interactive maps showing how the rising seas could hit local areas.

To lessen the possibility of catastrophic flooding, the report calls for action to fight global climate change.

"The United States must work to slow sea level rise by reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases, and work to diminish the remaining danger by preparing for higher seas in coastal cities and counties everywhere," it says.

See a visualization of how rising sea levels could affect areas around the world

Floating house rises to flooding challenge

Could global warming kill outdoor hockey?

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Filed under: Flooding • Global Warming • Weather
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. charlie avila

    Yes!, the continue oil burning, greenhouse effect has caused the climate changes. When a disaster strikes, people says in the news, that mother nature caused it. This is ignorant, they blame on mother nature, but it is "man's hands", or man's intervention with nature. The continue oil burning is melting the glaciers and poles ice. And that extra water go finally under ground, lakes, rivers, evaporates and ends in the oceans increasing its water levels. So, that water, during storms will cause destructive flooding worldwide. We 've to blame on men, not nature!!....

    March 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    As an aside, it's going to be nearly 80 degrees in Chi-town today.

    March 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ayala

      That is really warm! I guess we'll need to move the U.S.Capitol to central Oaklahoma where it belongs

      March 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. I can't believe is not butter

    I like how big brother is keeping our comments short..notice on comments 25....well is less than that here..shmmmm

    March 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. me

    why dont they build some thing to save there homes.
    like a wall around the house! from the pics.
    it only needs to be 3 feet high. and two deep.
    with a water tight door. and steps.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob2tall

      a lot of it is building in flood zones-and you cant just built a wall around every house...

      March 14, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CENTRAL PARK

    2012 DEC 21

    March 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • remilaboe

      the Myan calendar does not have leap years so we have already passed the "end of the world".........sorry

      March 15, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Percy's Progress

    Dwain The bathtub I'm Downining.

    Come on now people! You don't actually believe any of this stuff do you? It's all about MONEY! MONEY MONEY MONEY!

    If the Earth was fifty degrees warmer and the sea level 50 feet higher, and the air and water was so polluted that you could breathe or drink any thing. In light off all that evidence the powers at be would still be like the Supertramp album cover "Crisis? What Crisis?"

    If you honestly WANT CHANGE to happen THEN YOU MUST MAKE IT HAPPEN! In the upcoming election, don't vote for either Republican or Democrat – choose a local independant in your area and vote for them. The days of party poilitcs needs to be brought to a close – because he current members who you do vote for don't listen to you – they only listen to the corporations. By not electing a D or an R to the house and senate you are sending both the Dems and the GOP AND THE CORPORATIONS that YOU THE VOTER MUST BE LISTENED TOO!

    A house full of independants would be more likely to work thant the BS you're getting now.

    March 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Really

    Spectacular! The only thing is that the flooding depicted in this photo was not caused by rising seas, but by torrential downpours, which have happened in this area for hundreds of years. Let's be honest.

    March 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AnotherAtheist

    All you naysayers are missing the point. Scientists acknowledge previous heating and cooling cycles as natural events. What concerns scientists is that the RATE OF CHANGE has increased exponentially, indicating that the current warming cycle (defined in large part by ocean temps) is NOT a natural variation.

    March 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AnotherAtheist

    Long before this became a political issue, early mathematical models showed an accompanying rise in sea level as well as localized cooling and severe weather. Successive models incorporating more and more data continue to show GLOBAL warming and some localized cooling due to disruption in global forces such as ocean currents and trade winds.

    March 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AnotherAtheist

    And by the way, all those computer models and the physics behind them? It's mathmatics – the same stuff you rely on every time you fly, flip on a light switch, get an xray, etc. You trust your life to the same physics every day, so don't act like a child and tell me it doesn't work when applied to a science you aren't smart enough to understand.

    March 14, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tallchat_CoM

    Sorry to hear that

    March 15, 2012 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. Condor

    Miami has been a cool 75 steadily since Jan.

    March 15, 2012 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Scottish Mama

    I do not care what you call it. We tied a couple of warm weather records held for 40 years and broke one by 4 degrees yesterday. It is winter here and we have spring/summer weather here. My bulbs are up and blooming in St. Louis, not complaining, just the facts ma'am.

    March 15, 2012 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kevin

    It is God's judgement period!

    March 15, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  15. BenBigwanger

    Let me guess...NOBODY is going to be requried to carry flood insurance, and nobody will, but the federal government will have to bail all these people out when the floods come. It's like the housing crisis all over again with people expecting the government to bail them out when they screw up. These people are being warned of the flood, but will save their money by not buying insurance, and expect ME (and my taxes) to bail them out when the waters come...AND THEY WILL...they have already been warned. WOW, is this a great country or what!

    March 15, 2012 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I do not know about existing mortgage holders, but in my area, people who buy a home is an existing flood plain have to buy flood insurace, or their mortgage will not be approved.

      My daughter lost everything she had a few years back when her neighborhood, which had NEVER FLOODED before, flooded. Same thing happened in my neighborhood, just a few blocks over, also in an area not known for flooding.
      The areas that are flooding now have previously never flooded.
      Thay require flood insurance NOW, but FEMA was there to help out, and I am

      March 15, 2012 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      eternally grateful to them that YOUR taxes (and mine) helped my daughter and my neighbors get some sort of normality back.

      Please forgive the typos and misspellings.
      No Kona yet.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
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