WASHINGTON - For the nearly 5 million people who live along the US coasts from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico and the West Coast, rising seas fueled by global warming have doubled the risk of so-called once-a-century floods, according to a trio of environmental reports released on Wednesday.
These new reports - one from the non-profit group Climate Central and two others published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters - offer a detailed picture of where the most severe risks are along coastlines of the contiguous 48 states.
Based on 2010 US Census population data and a fresh analysis of high tide lines by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Climate Central report's findings can be seen online at surgingseas.org
South Florida may be "indefensible" against floods caused by higher seas and the bigger storm surges that are expected to result, said Ben Strauss, an expert on ecology and evolutionary biology who is chief operating officer of Climate Central. He co-authored the two journal reports and the online report.
An estimated $30 billion in taxable property is vulnerable in southeast Florida alone, according to a preliminary independent analysis cited in the report.
In California, some places that have never seen severe floods could be vulnerable to them in the next decade or two, Strauss said.