Climate change could submerge U.S. land worth billions of dollars, study finds

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Grace Smith | September 22, 2022

Sea level rise from climate change could submerge billions of dollars worth of U.S. land, a study from Climate Central said. The analysis found that by 2050, 650,000 properties of land over four million acres could fall underwater, decreasing its value by $108 billion by the end of the century. 

In the U.S., 30 percent of the population lives in a largely populous area near coastlines, where sea level plays a large role in flooding and erosion. 

“Sea level rise is ultimately going to take land away from people,” said Don Bain, a senior adviser with Climate Central, who wrote the report. “That’s something we haven’t come to grips with.”

The global sea level has risen eight to nine inches since 1980, which is mostly because of melted ice from glaciers and ice sheets as seawater warms. And, in many U.S. coastline locations, sea level rise is greater because of erosion, groundwater pumping, and more. By 2050, Climate Central estimates that In Hudson County, New Jersey, $2.4 billion worth of property will be underwater. In Galveston, Texas, over 4,200 buildings that are currently above sea level will be partially or fully underwater. And, 75 percent of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, will be submerged.

The report lists options for communities to reduce risks to properties:

  • Adjust land development to locations outside of high-risk zones
  • Partake in the National Flood Insurance Program and the Community Rating System incentives to help better financial stability for community members.
  • Use science to create improvements in stormwater systems, raising roadways, building levees, and improving coastal wetlands will for now, protect the tax base.
  • Educate taxpayers so they can adapt to the new economy and rising sea levels.

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