Home Emergency Management News Sea Level Rise Could Impact 1.9 Million Homes in United States Alone

Sea Level Rise Could Impact 1.9 Million Homes in United States Alone

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Unprecedented Sea Level Rise Poses Risk to Homes

Most scientists agree that carbon emissions have contributed to increased greenhouse gas levels that have spawned warmer global temperatures.  As a result, sea level rise is already occurring due to glacier and sea ice melt in Antarctica, Greenland, and the Arctic.

Scientists studying Antarctica ice loss predict that if current emission trends continue, and without a substantial cut in carbon emissions across the globe, oceans are likely to rise six feet by the end of this century. That is a significantly higher number than the previous two- to three-foot estimate.

Economic Impacts

A new study estimated that nearly 1.9 million homes across the nation will be in jeopardy if oceans rise the six feet scientists are now projecting under current carbon emission scenarios.

The total estimated cost of these 1.9 million homes is $882 billion dollars nationwide. Of these homes, those situated in South Florida are the ones most likely to feel the worst impact. In Florida alone, the number of homes that are most likely to be impacted is estimated at 943,411, the highest number across the nation, with the City of Fort Lauderdale sustaining the heaviest hit with nearly 38,000 of its homes possibly affected.

New Jersey follows Florida with an estimated 190,429 homes that could be affected, while South Carolina and Louisiana are nearly tied with 83,833 and 80,080 homes respectively. New York ranks third in the study, as an estimated 96,708 homes are likely to be affected in the state. Downtown Manhattan, with its vast economic hub, is also at risk from rising sea levels. Plans to build a barrier wall made from concrete and steel are set to begin next year in an attempt to mitigate the threat from rising seas.

Barriers: To Build or Not

The estimated cost of the Florida homes likely to be impacted is approximately $413 million, and due to the soil, which is sandy and easily erodes, it may not be possible, or even advisable to try to build sea walls or barriers, according to the study.  

In spite of this, Miami is already planning to build sea walls, raise its roads, and install pumps to protect the city and its estimated 37,500 homes that are likely to be impacted.  What's more, some experts believe that Miami-Dade County could turn into a series of islands if sea levels rise as predicted.

Other Global Impacts from Sea Level Rise

According to the study, other issues also need to be considered when addressing sea level rise, such as sea ports, which are currently at sea level, and a potentially massive refugee crisis that is likely to erupt around the world, the likes of which which will cause the current refugee situation to pale in comparison.

Counting on Technology

Experts remain hopeful that new breakthroughs in technology, such as a significant reduction in the cost to produce solar power, will lead to solutions that can completely cut carbon emissions and prevent the climate from reaching its tipping point.

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Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.