New Maps Show Sea Level Rise Submerging America's Coastal Cities New Maps Show Sea Level Rise Submerging America's Coastal Cities
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New Maps Show Sea Level Rise Submerging America's Coastal Cities

by Ben Jervey

February 18, 2011

Though cities along the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic coast are most vulnerable, Strauss notes "we also uncovered less familiar pockets of risk, from Virginia Beach to the New Jersey Shore, from Tampa Bay to the San Francisco Bay Area."

It should be noted that the 9 percent figure above is based on the estimate of a one meter rise by 2100, which is on the low end of the best estimates current science has to offer. An incredible 36 percent of the land area of America's coastal cities lies under six meters of elevation, and if we continue on a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions track, six meters of sea level rise is all but inevitable in the longer term. Maybe not in your lifetime or mine, but certainly something our grandchildren would face.

Strauss and his colleagues also didn't account for the fact that high tide levels vary by region. They're tackling that next.

In a separate but related study, NASA just released a visualization of how sea level rise would impact the Bay Area. Visualizations like this and another, similar project in New York City are going to become more and more important as urban planners and city governments slowly come around to recognizing the very serious threat that rising sea levels will pose on our urban areas. It will be very interesting to see how mayors and governors who are skeptical of climate science deal—or refuse to deal—with these predictions and projections in decades ahead.

Climate Central also has a disconcerting slide show featuring the 20 big American cities that should be most concerned about rising seas.

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
Some recent articles by Ben Jervey:
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New Maps Show Sea Level Rise Submerging America's Coastal Cities