14 Mar 2012:
Rising Seas, Coastal Flooding
Threaten 3.7 Million in U.S., Study Says
Roughly 3.7 million Americans live within a few feet of high tide and will face more frequent coastal flooding
in the coming decades as a result of steadily rising seas, according to new research. Using improved estimates of land elevation near coastlines and tidal levels throughout the U.S., as well as
2010 census data, scientists at the non-profit group, Climate Central
, calculated that the 3.7 million Americans living within 1 meter — 3.3 feet — of mean high tide level will soon regularly face the kind of coastal flooding that was once exceedingly rare. Should sea levels rise more than three feet this century, which a growing number of scientists say is possible, millions more Americans in coastal communities will face outright inundation or frequent flooding, according to Benjamin Strauss, a scientist who directs Climate Central’s program on sea level rise. “Sealevel rise is like an invisible tsunami, building force while we do almost nothing,” said Strauss. “We have a closing window of time to prevent the worst by preparing for higher seas.” A new Climate Central Web site, Surgingseas.org
, enables people in Florida, New Jersey, and other vulnerable states to click on an interactive map to see what kind of sea level rise their communities may face. The study is appearing in the journal, Environmental Research Letters.
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