6 Major U.S. Cities Facing Potentially Catastrophic Sea Level Rise (Infographic)

For years, scientists have warned against the dangers of planetary pollution, the continuance of global warming and other valid concerns that plague our world today. Both the government and leading environmentalists alike are working together behind the scenes to conquer rising sea levels and while this is just one of the many issues that our generation will work to combat, it is an extremely important one.


Sea levels have not only begun to rise, they are expected to continue creeping upward. In fact, a recent study indicated that sea levels are expected to rise to as little as 8 inches to as much as 34 inches by the year 2100.

While these numbers may not seem like much in comparison to the depths of the ocean, these seemingly small increments could flood up to 25% of the United States coastal cities, leaving billions of people in their wake.

Even more concerning, these rising levels seem to be unstoppable, leaving politicians, scientists and activists to warn that while we may be unable to stop these rising waters, we can make our best efforts to keep the rising measurements manageable. Doing so now may mean making all the difference in the world future generations will live in. 

What is Causing Sea Levels to Rise?

1. Global Warming.

For quite some time, activists and environmentalists have pressed the issues that global warming could cause. From the demolishing of mass acerages of rain forests all around the planet to pollution sent forth from vehicles and burning coal, the world’s climate has climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the year 1880. Global warming appears to have played a part in rising sea levels and it shows no signs of stopping. 

2. Thermal Expansion.

Thermal expansion is the process of expansion caused by heat. Global warming has helped to fuel the thermal expansion of our seas and is thought to be responsible for 1 to 3 inches of rising sea levels now.

3. Melting Glaciers

As more proof of global warming, over the centuries, science has watched as glaciers began to melt. In fact, Alaska’s glaciers have receded by 75 gigatons of lost ice annually. Glacier melt is responsible for an estimated 1 to 2 inches of rising waters in our oceans.

Areas Affected By Rising Sea Levels

1 million U.S. residents are residing in the coastal areas of the nation. The following populated areas are expected to have issues with the rising of the sea:

1. New York

Scientists have estimated that by the year 2100, the waters surrounding New York are expected to have risen 4 feet. A rise of this magnitude would mean that 100,000 people would essentially be underwater. The damages would also be catastrophic, estimated to come in at 16.5 billion dollars or more.

2. Washington D.C.

This region is one that scientists have watched extremely closely. It is the highest rising in the east and one area of most concern at this time.

3. Jacksonville, Florida.

The most problematic area in the east, water levels are creeping upward at twice the speeds of any other city by the coast. It is also an area of highest priority.

4, 5 & 6. Atlantic City, Miami and Jersey. 

These popular and highly populated areas have been projected to experience an estimated 240 days of flooding by the year 2045, not far in the foreseeable future.

Paying the Price

Scientists are calling the year 2100 the 100-year flood mark. By this time, they believe that over 11 trillion to 210 trillion dollars in national assets will be beneath the flood level.

By 2050, if 20 inches of sea levels rise, it would cost the U.S. 28 trillion dollars in assets. This is, of course, all secondary to the one billion people who will be affected.

Improving the World for a Better Tomorrow

First and foremost, we must find a way to reduce pollution and global emissions. If we can halt global warming, we can halt possible further issues.

Secondly, the restoration and building of coastal barriers, levees and seawalls are essential, as is the elevation of structures nearby problem areas.

Of course, ideally, areas of most concern would hope to be relocated prior to sea level spillage. While our nation and world have a real challenge ahead of us, there is no need to panic. Instead, we must channel that anxiety into a proactive resolve that makes our world a better place for ourselves and for future generations. From greener living to problem solving solutions, no action is too small to count and if we work together, we can make the world a better, safer world in which to live. 

To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by Eastern Kentucky University’s online Masters in Safety, Security and Emergency Management:

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