Miami and New Orleans among 400 U.S. Cities said to be Doomed by Rising Sea Levels

Saturday, October 17, 2015
Katrina-like flooding could become permanent in New Orleans (photo: Dave Martin, AP)

Coastal cities such as Miami and New Orleans could soon be underwater because of rising sea levels caused by global climate change, according to new research.


A study (pdf) published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says 414 cities and towns face the prospect of losing half or more of their jurisdictions to higher ocean levels.


One of the most extreme cases is New Orleans, where 98% of populated land would be below sea level, Benjamin Strauss of Climate Central, one of the study’s authors, told Huffington Post. “So it’s really just a question of building suitable defenses or eventually abandoning the city,” he said.


Strauss admitted, however, that a city can only build levees so high before it just doesn’t make sense to keep out the ocean. “How deep a bowl do you want to live in?” he asked. “We already saw with [Hurricane] Katrina what can happen when a levee is breached, and the higher the water gets and the taller the levee gets, the more catastrophic a levee breach would become.”


Miami also is vulnerable to flooding because it is mostly flat and sits atop porous limestone. “Water can just go through it and so building levees is not going to be effective in South Florida,” Strauss said.


Miami is just one of many cities in Florida at risk. The Sunshine State has at least 40% of the people who face having to move because of climate change.


Changing course now on carbon use could save some cities from being inundated, however. For instance, the 1.5 million people at risk in New York City and the 100,000 in Philadelphia might not be displaced if carbon emissions are drastically cut, Strauss said.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

More Than 400 U.S. Cities May Be ‘Past the Point Of No Return’ With Sea Level Threats (by Lydia O’Connor, Huffington Post)

Sea Level Rise will Swallow Miami, New Orleans (Agence France-Presse)

Carbon Choices Determine U.S. Cities Committed to Futures Below Sea Level (by Benjamin H. Straussa, Scott Kulpa and Anders Levermann, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) (pdf)

Scientists Predict 4 Million Americans will be “Significantly” Affected by Rising Sea Levels within 6 Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

1,700 U.S. Cities Could Be Partially Underwater by 2100 Due to Climate Change (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


anonamouse 8 years ago
Wow. No time frame for this imminent catastrophe? Considering how wrong the state-run science has been so far: on global temps (haven't risen at all since the '90s according to honest satellite data); on the ice caps' being gone by 2016 (US now wants to build more icebreakers for Arctic Ocean duty); on the end of snowfalls in Britain (oops); on more & fiercer hurricanes and storms (double or even triple oops). I wouldn't lose too much sleep over the predictable caterwauling of the AGW machine, even if I lived in Miami. None of the scenarios being trotted out to frighten the public into supporting massive CO2 cuts at the Paris negotiations are going to play out --- not in the lifetimes of those presently alive, not in their children's lifetimes, and most likely, not ever. In fact, with that bad timing which is typical of institutional policy initiatives, it appears likely the big climate catastrophe psy-op is running into the reality of a 30-year cool down, the result of natural climate variability, which may be getting under way right now. ...But, hey, science kiddies, be afraid, be very afraid!
Paul Harris 8 years ago
Very poignant as I was a California tourist stuck in the Superdome during Katrina. Paul Harris, Author, Diary From the Dome Reflections On Fear and Privilege During Katrina

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