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$32 Billion in New England Property At Risk From Flooding; Sea-Level Rise Tool Lets You Check Risk

Climate Central
Published: April 24, 2014

PRINCETON, N.J. – Today, Climate Central released a sea-level rise and coastal flood risk tool for coastal New England states. The organization's research in this area was recently highlighted at the launch of The White House's Climate Data Initiative.

The tool is available at sealevel.climatecentral.org.

According to the Surging Seas analysis, the risk of an extreme flood is increasing in coastal cities throughout New England as sea levels rise due in large part to climate change. After accounting for potential protections from dams and other flood control structures, more than 84,000 people and $32 billion in property across New England are at risk of extreme coastal flooding.

An extreme coastal flood in New England ranges from 4 to 6 feet above the high tide line depending upon the area.

Here's a snapshot of what this means for New England coastal states, based on a moderate-to-high sea level rise scenario:

  • In Massachusetts, 47,888 people reside on land that is exposed to 4-f floods. Of this total, 17,662 are considered highly vulnerable, based on social and economic criteria. There is a 67 percent chance of a flood this high in Boston by 2030.
  • In Rhode Island, more than $4.3 billion worth of property lies on land less than 5 feet above the high tide line. There is a 1-in-3 chance of a flood this high in Newport, R.I., by 2040.
  • In New Hampshire, $1.08 billion worth of N.H. property lies on land less than 4 feet above the high tide line. There is a 40 percent chance of a flood this high by 2040.
  • In Maine, 58,379 acres of land are situated 4 feet above the high tide line. There is a 40 percent chance of a flood this high in Portland, Maine, by 2040.
  • In Connecticut, $14.9 billion in property and 53,406 people are situated on land that is less than 6 feet above the high tide line. There is a 1-in-3 chance of a flood this high in Bridgeport, Ct., by 2040.

What you'll find at Climate Central's Surging Seas online sea level rise database.

“In the lifetime of a new mortgage, coastal residents will see more flooding due to sea-level rise,” said Dr. Benjamin Strauss, vice president for Climate Impacts and director of the Program on Sea Level Rise.

The web tool analyzes risk from 1 to 10 feet above high tide, from ZIP code to state level, and covers more than 100 demographic, economic, infrastructure and environmental variables using data drawn mainly from federal sources, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the United States Geological Survey; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the Departments of Transportation, Energy and the Interior; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Census.

Climate Central has also released the sea-level rise tool for New Jersey, New York and Florida. All U.S. coastal states, including Hawaii and Alaska, will roll out in 2014.

See the full sea-level rise tool at Climate Central.

MORE: The World's Most Historic Places in 2,000 Years

The Statue of Liberty Today

The Statue of Liberty Today

Above, we used Google Earth to visualize what 15 of the sites in the study might look like in the future, if its sea level rise projections come to pass. Thanks to Andrew David Thaler's DrownYourTown for the template to create these visualizations. (Photo by Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock)

  • The Statue of Liberty Today
  • The Statue of Liberty With 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • The Statue of Liberty With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Venice Today
  • Venice With 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Sydney Opera House Today
  • Sydney Opera House With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Amsterdam Today
  • Amsterdam With 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Amsterdam With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Tower of London Today
  • Tower of London With 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Tower of London With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Tower of Hercules Today
  • Tower of Hercules With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Independence Hall Today
  • Independence Hall With 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Independence Hall With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Itsukushima Shrine Today
  • Itsukushima Shrine With 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Itsukushima Shrine With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Tower of Belem Today
  • Tower of Belem with 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Tower of Belem With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Westminster Abbey Today
  • Westminster Abbey With 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Westminster Abbey With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Mont Saint-Michel Today
  • Mont Saint-Michel With 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Mont Saint-Michel With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa Today
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa With 15 Meters of Sea Level Rise
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa With 35 Meters of Sea Level Rise

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