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