New research has shown that over 300,000 coastal homes in the US could face flooding as frequently as every two weeks as a result of rising sea levels linked to climate change. Half a million Americans reside in the homes, which together are worth $120 billion, according to The Guardian.
The report, by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), relied on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s projection of rising sea levels, combined with property data from Zillow, an online real estate company. The NOAA projection forecasted the outcome if greenhouse gas emissions are not limited substantially, resulting in a 6.5 foot global rise in sea levels. They found that the 311,000 coastal properties would flood 26 times a year, over the next three decades.
By 2100, the forecast is even more grim, with 2.4 million homes, with a value of roughly a trillion dollars, threatened by regular floods. The bulk of the damage is expected in low-lying areas, including one million properties in Florida, 250,000 in New Jersey, and 143,000 in New York.
Property prices could fall, as mortgages in these areas become less feasible, with steep increases in flood insurance premiums.
According to Rachel Cleetus, a UCS economist and climate policy director:
“Unfortunately, in the years ahead many coastal communities will face declining property values as risk perceptions catch up with reality. In contrast with previous housing market crashes, values of properties chronically inundated due to sea level rise are unlikely to recover and will only continue to go further underwater, literally and figuratively.”
The analysis did not account for future technology that could mitigate the damage. However, unlike many nations, the US still does not have a national plan for rising sea levels, and the Trump administration is no longer taking the threat into account for federally funded infrastructure plans.
Researchers have previously warned that by 2100, 13 million Americans may have to relocate because of rising sea levels. Nasa announced just last week that ice loss in Antarctica has tripled since 2012. Melting glaciers, in addition to 3 millimeters of thermal expansion of seawater itself, are responsible for the rise. Both have been linked to climate change stemming from greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity.
According to UCS senior climate scientist Kristina Dahl:
“The impact could well be staggering. This level of flooding would be a tipping point where people in these communities would think it’s unsustainable. Even homes along the Gulf coast that are elevated would be affected, as they’d have to drive through salt water to get to work or face their kids’ school being cut off. You can imagine people walking away from mortgages, away from their homes.”