Friday, March 16, 2012

Millions in US at risk from sea level rise

Insurance Journal: Sea level rise due to global warming has doubled the annual risk of coastal flooding of historic proportions across widespread areas of the United States, according to a report from the non-profit research group Climate Central.

By 2030, the report says, many locations are likely to see storm surges combining with sea level rise to raise waters at least four feet above the local high-tide line. Nearly 5 million U.S. residents live in 2.6 million homes on land below this level. More than 6 million people live on land below 5 feet; by 2050, the study projects that widespread areas will experience coastal floods exceeding this higher level. In 285 municipalities, more than half the population lives below the 4-foot mark — with Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and North Carolina being especially vulnerable, according to the report.

Titled “Surging Seas,” the report analyzes how sea level rise caused by global warming is compounding the risk from storm surges throughout the coastal contiguous U.S....In 2010, researchers at First American Spatial Solutions (FASS) unveiled a model they said showed the impact of storm surge on property insurance losses caused by hurricanes.

Back in 2007, experts at insurance modeling firm Risk Management Solutions (RMS) along with academics from several universities began studying urban coastal flooding and identified the top 10 cites globally with the most property exposure. Miami and New York made that list.

The creators of “Surging Seas” say their model is the first to generate local and national estimates of the land, housing and population in vulnerable low-lying areas, and associate this information with flood risk timelines. The Surging Seas website includes a searchable, interactive online map that zooms down to neighborhood level, and shows risk zones and statistics for 3,000 coastal towns, cities, counties and states affected up to 10 feet above the high tide line....

A storm surge from Hurricane Eloise in 1975, NOAA

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