Rising seas could force a large-scale retreat from U.S. shores within decades. - Grist


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bearer of bad tidings

Rising seas could force a large-scale retreat from U.S. shores within decades.

A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists offers us the best look yet into how coastal communities will experience debilitating inundation this century.

Without sharp reductions in emissions, by 2100, parts of every coastal county in the continental United States will experience “chronic flooding that makes normal routines impossible” — including 24 percent of the city of Boston, 33 percent of Virginia Beach, and 54 percent of Miami.

Some especially vulnerable places, like Miami Beach (94 percent) and Galveston, Texas, (90 percent) would be essentially uninhabitable. The report predicts that relocation will be the only option in these areas.

Union of Concerned Scientists

For another eye-opening example, take the image above. By 2100, the New York and New Jersey area could experience Hurricane Sandy–level flooding twice per month. Yikes.

The study takes a fresh approach by examining the effects of tidal flooding, which varies significantly based on local geography. It also incorporates the latest science on sea-level rise, including new information about melting in Antarctica and the fact that ocean levels are rising at different rates around the world (in the U.S., the East Coast and Gulf Coast will be hit especially hard).

A companion interactive map lets you explore scenarios for your own community. Remember, though, that these scenarios are still avoidable with rapid climate action.