A new Climate Central research paper released this week exposes hundreds of millions more people than before known live on land at risk from coastal flooding connected to climate change. The biggest vulnerable populations are most massively in Asia.
According to The Land Report, over 100 rich families own 42 million acres of land across the U.S. Each of the 20 individuals and households that own the most land hold over a half-million acres each. Among them: John Malone, Ted Turner, Stan Kroenke, Brad Kelley, and Subway founder Peter Buck, with many more new purchases happening this year.
By 2050, sea-level rise will push average annual coastal floods higher than land now home to 300 million people, according to a study published in Nature Communications. High waves could permanently rise above land occupied by over 150 million people, including 30 million in China. Without first coastal defense and planning, populations in these areas may face continual flooding within 30 years.
The report findings are “based on CoastalDEM, a new digital elevation model developed by Climate Central. Researchers used machine learning methods to correct for systematic errors in the principal elevation dataset used until now for international assessment of coastal flood risks, NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). CoastalDEM-derived estimates of the global population at risk are three times greater than values produced using SRTM elevation data.”
Below are full maps from U.S. Climate Central, which shows accurate risk zone areas in the U.S. as well as a part of the disaster zones and locations. All maps are based on a 10-foot water-level rise plus a high tide flood event to show how dangerous this situation could become. Many of these coastal areas have some of the most expensive properties in the world, including Miami Beach, the Hamptons, and Malibu Beach, among others. More than 99 percent of today’s population in 252 coastal towns and cities would have their homes submerged.
Alameda, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, La Jolla, and San Diego are all high-risk zones in the state. 1,300 square miles of land lie less than 3 feet above the high tide line in California, Oregon, and Washington. Among the high-profile beach properties in the state is a mansion on Billionaire’s Beach in Malibu, California, which Hard Rock Cafe’s Peter Morton sold for $110 million in April 2018.
Miami, Pensacola, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, Naples, Key West, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, and Miami Beach are all high-risk zones in the state. Among the pricey properties in Miami Beach is a 10-bedroom, 14-bathroom mansion on Indian Creek Island Road that recently sold for $50 million.
Honolulu/Oahu, Mokuoloe/Oahu, Kahului/Maui, Kawaihoe/Hawaii, Hilo/Hawaii are all in high-risk zones in the state. eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar owns one of the expensive beachfront properties in the Kahala area in Honolulu.
Boston, Cambridge, Quincy are all high-risk areas.
Statewide in Louisiana, more than one million people live below 6 feet, including roughly a quarter-million that appear to lack levee protection. Louisiana has more than 5,631 square miles of land at less than 6 feet, half of which is in 5 Parishes: Terrebonne, Cameron, Vermilion, Lafourche, and St. Mary – increasing to 6,791 square miles less than 10 ft above the tide line.
Atlantic City, Bergen Point. 285 square miles of land lie less than 5 feet above the high tide line in New Jersey. 30% of the total property value sitting on land below 5 ft, falls within just Atlantic City, Ocean City, and Beach Haven.
Manhattan, Battery, Hamptons, Montauk are all in high-risk areas. 120 square miles of land lie less than 6 feet above the high tide line in New York.
Corpus Christie, Houston, Rockport, Freeport, Galveston. Texas has 685,000 acres of land, or more than 1,000 square miles, at less than 5 feet. Harris and Cameron’s counties combine to make more than half of the 5-foot exposure – and the city of Houston makes up one-quarter of this overall exposure.