Mar 14, 2012

Tidally adjusted estimates of topographic vulnerability to sea level rise and flooding for the contiguous United States

Strauss, Benjamin H., Ziemlinski, Remik, Weiss, Jeremy L., Jonathan Overpeck
Environmental Research Letters
  • Quantifies low-lying coastal land, housing and population relative to local mean high tide levels, which range from 0 to 3m in elevation
  • States that previous work at regional to national scales has sometimes equated elevation with the amount of sea level rise, leading to underestimated risk anywhere where the mean high tide elevation exceeds 0m, and compromising comparisons across regions with different tidal levels
  • Uses a tidally adjusted approach, and estimates the contiguous US population living on land within 1m of high tide to be 3.7 million
  • Finds that in 544 municipalities and 38 counties, over 10% of the population lives below this line; all told, some 2150 towns and cities have some degree of exposure
  • Finda that, at the state level, Florida, Louisiana, California, New York and New Jersey have the largest sub-meter populations
  • Assesses topographic susceptibility of land, housing and population to sea level rise for all coastal states, counties and municipalities, from 0 to 6m above mean high tide
  • Finds important threat levels for widely distributed communities of every size
  • Estimates that over 22.9 million Americans live on land within 6m of local mean high tide