. Over 13 millions of homes are at risk of flooding from 2100 due to rising sea levels. Scientists from Georgia believe that their research could be used by policymakers to protect these properties. In the highly regarded journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers explain that this is the first study to evaluate the risks from rising oceans by using year 2100 demographic forecasts for all 319 coast counties on the US mainland. Current population numbers were used in previous studies about the effects of climate change on sea level rises. 2010-2100. Cumulative projections of at-risk population for the Continental United States. Projections reflect assumed growth/decline rates for 72,664 census block groups in 319 coastal counties. Image: Nature.com. This study was done using data collected and analysed as part of Mathew Hauer’s doctoral research with UGA Franklin College of Art and Sciences. Jason Evans is also at Stetson University. Deepak Mishra is Associate Professor at UGA Department of Geography. 6 foot sea level rise Based on 2100 population projections, more than 13million homes could be at risk from flooding or other dangers caused by rising waters. Six million people are expected to be affected in Florida, which is the worst-affected state. Louisiana has one million and California has one million. The researchers found that the sea level could rise three to six inches by the end century, according to the study. Hauer stated that even at the lowest level (just 3ft), the population trends indicate that more than 4.2 million residents of the US coast would be in serious danger. The projected cumulative population at sea-level risk from 2100 in the scenario of 1.8 meters. This study included 22 States and the District of Columbia. Image: Nature.com. Current projections downplay the potential impact. Hauer says that current estimates are three times higher than the actual estimates. These estimates significantly underestimate the impact of rising sea levels in America. In fact, there are 31 counties where more than 100,000 residents could be affected by 6 feet of sea level rise.” The authors believe their data could help policymakers determine where to focus practical adaptation strategies for protecting land and properties threatened by frequent and repeated flooding, said Mishra. Mishra said, “This research combines population forecasts and sea level rise. This gives policymakers greater information to aid them in assessing how sea rise will impact people and infrastructure. The authors also used population projections for the years 2100,, which provided more precise and pertinent data about the flooding risk in the fastest growing communities of the USA. If adaptive measures aren’t taken, for example, more than 25% of residents living in large urban centres like New Orleans or Miami may be at risk from coastal flooding. Left to right: Jason Evans (Middle), Deepak Mishra (Middle), and Mathew Huauer. Hauer stated that adaptation strategies must be implemented immediately. A six-foot rise would affect over 10% of people living in Georgia’s coastal counties with regular and severe flooding, plus 18% of those living in Chatham County (Savannah) and 29% in Glynn County (Brunswick). A 6-foot rise in sea levels would affect people living elsewhere. Over 16% of residents in San Mateo County in California, just south of San Francisco, and more than 10% of those living in Nassau County, New York, would suffer. The journal’s Abstract stated that “the absence of protective measures could result in US population movements similar to the 20th century Great Migration of south African-Americans.” Nature Climate Change. 14 March, 2016. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2961. Video: Top 10 Countries at Risk of Sea Level Rises
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