Surging Seas: Sea level rise, Storms and Global Warming’s Threat to the US Coast

This report from Climate Central analyzes how sea level rise caused by global warming is compounding the risk from storm surges throughout the coastal contiguous U.S. It is the first study to generate local and national estimates of the land, housing and population in vulnerable low-lying areas, and associate this information with flood risk timelines.

This report includes estimates of land, population and housing at risk; evaluations of every low-lying coastal town, city, county and state in the contiguous U.S.; localized timelines of storm surge threats integrating local sea level rise projections; and an interactive map and data to download online (see the additional 'Surging Seas' entry in this clearinghouse for more information on the interactive website

According to the report, sea level rise increases are likely to cause serious damage from coast to coast.  At three quarters of the 55 sites analyzed in this study, century levels are higher than 4 feet above the high tide line. In 285 municipalities, more than half the population lives below this 4-foot mark. One hundred and six of these places are in Florida, 65 are in Louisiana, and ten or more are in New York (13), New Jersey (22), Maryland (14), Virginia (10) and North Carolina (22). In 676 towns and cities spread across every coastal state in the lower 48 except Maine and Pennsylvania, more than 10% of the population lives below the 4-foot mark. 

Summaries of these findings at a state-by-state level are available in fact sheets at The original peer-reviewed studies can be found via



Publication Date: March 14, 2012

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Ben Strauss
  • Claudia Tebaldi
  • Remik Ziemlinski

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment


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