24/7 Wall St.

American Cities That Will Soon Be Under Water

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The steady rise in global surface temperatures, monitored since the 1880s, is largely attributed to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. With rising temperatures, the world’s ice has been melting and the sea level rising. As a result, barring major interventions, sooner or later thousands of coastal communities around the world will become uninhabitable.

The most recent assessment published this June in the science journal Nature found that Antarctica is melting at triple the rate it did in 2007 and previous projections may have underestimated the continent’s slow disappearance.

According to a 2017 study, if rising carbon emissions and ice sheet loss continue at their current rate, global sea levels could rise by an estimated 8 feet by the year 2100. And if, in the even more distant future, all of the Antarctic ice sheet — which comprises the vast majority of Earth’s freshwater supply — melts, sea levels would rise by approximately 200 feet.

Change on such a large scale is incremental and can seem quite distant. Still, any large scale solution to the problem would need to be implemented relatively soon. Already, for many areas, flooding is inevitable and the problem is imminent. According to NOAA scientists, high tide flooding across U.S. coastlines this year may surpass what was typical flooding 20 years ago by as much as 60%.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data modeled by environmental watchdog group the Union of Concerned Scientists, which identified U.S. coastal communities expected to face chronic and disruptive flooding before the end of the century — defined as having 10% or more of livable land area flooded at least 26 times per year.

Across U.S. coastal cities within the next 30 years, more than 300,000 homes worth a combined $117.5 billion are likely to be at risk of chronic tidal flooding, according to UCS analysis and projections.

We reviewed the coastal communities in which at least 10% of livable area is expected to experience chronic flooding by 2060. Places are ranked by the number of residents that live in parts of the community expected to be under water by 2060.

Cities and institutions can mitigate flood damage by implementing wetlands, levees, and other mechanisms, and many of the cities on this list have done so. It is important to note that the estimates published by the UCS do not take into account the mitigating effects of such mechanisms.

Correction: An earlier version of this piece attributed the $117.5 billion flooding estimate cost to Zillow. That estimate was calculated by the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

Click here to see the American cities that will soon be under water.
Click here to read our methodology.

Source: andykazie / Getty Images

30. Secaucus, New Jersey
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 3,092 (19.0%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 25.7%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 65.8%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $230.21 million
> Last major flooding event: October 2012 (Superstorm Sandy)

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Source: Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) / Wikimedia Commons

29. St. Simons, Georgia
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 3,370 (22.9%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 26.4%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 60.1%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $1.75 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

Source: Mario Tama / Getty Images

28. Margate City, New Jersey
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 3,533 (55.6%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 55.7%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 99.6%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $1.90 billion
> Last major flooding event: October 2012 (Superstorm Sandy)

Source: 100668943@N06 / Flickr

27. St. Helena Island, South Carolina
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 3,535 (16.0%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 27.3%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 59.0%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $736.21 million
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

26. Brigantine, New Jersey
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 3,590 (38.0%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 48.0%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 95.9%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $1.29 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Jose)

Source: Toddbarwick / Wikimedia Commons

25. West Ashley, South Carolina
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 3,753 (5.5%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 13.7%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 42.2%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $592.95 million
> Last major flooding event: November 2017

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Source: Andrew Burton / Getty Images

24. Little Ferry, New Jersey
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 3,881 (36.5%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 75.4%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 92.0%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $478.20 million
> Last major flooding event: October 2012 (Superstorm Sandy)

Source: Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

23. Waccamaw Neck, South Carolina
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 3,933 (17.7%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 15.7%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 32.5%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $1.88 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

Source: Chris connelly / Wikimedia Commons

22. Pennsville, New Jersey
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 4,081 (30.4%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 35.4%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 70.5%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $289.22 million
> Last major flooding event: May 2018

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Source: felixmizioznikov / Getty Images

21. Key Biscayne, Florida
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 4,302 (34.7%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 50.6%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 86.3%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $2.61 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

Source: TiffanyLaRayPhotography / Getty Images

20. James Island, South Carolina
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 4,405 (11.5%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 27.4%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 68.4%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $898.66 million
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

19. La Marque-Hitchcock, Texas
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 4,576 (20.4%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 19.7%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 46.0%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $590.55 million
> Last major flooding event: August 2017 (Hurricane Harvey)

Source: Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons

18. Tybee Island-Wilmington Island, Georgia
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 4,679 (17.4%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 32.9%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 70.4%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $914.94 million
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

Source: Herb Neufeld / Flickr

17. Middle Keys, Florida
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 4,720 (47.0%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 67.8%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 98.1%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $1.98 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

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Source: Patrick Feller / Flickr

16. Brazosport, Texas
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 4,859 (8.1%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 32.3%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 70.0%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $344.96 million
> Last major flooding event: August 2017 (Hurricane Harvey)

Source: gammaman / Flickr

15. Ventnor City, New Jersey
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 4,916 (46.2%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 53.9%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 98.9%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $849.98 million
> Last major flooding event: January 2018

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Source: psyberartist / Flickr

14. St. Pete Beach, Florida
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 5,008 (31.5%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 50.5%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 99.5%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $1.56 billion
> Last major flooding event: July 2017 (Hurricane Emily)

Source: denisbin / Flickr

13. Charleston Central, South Carolina
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 5,122 (14.8%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 25.5%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 58.0%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $2.07 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

Source: TraceRouda / Getty Images

12. Ponte Vedra, Florida
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 5,649 (20.8%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 21.6%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 43.3%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $1.41 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

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Source: Thinkstock

11. Ocean City, New Jersey
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 6,028 (51.5%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 58.9%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 98.3%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $5.68 billion
> Last major flooding event: October 2012 (Superstorm Sandy)

Source: Edward Linsmier / Getty Images

10. Boca Ciega, Florida
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 6,810 (10.2%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 10.5%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 23.7%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $1.36 billion
> Last major flooding event: July 2017

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Source: Marc Serota / Getty Images

9. Upper Keys, Florida
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 6,992 (35.0%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 40.4%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 77.4%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $3.80 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

Source: sjoeman / Getty Images

8. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 8,389 (10.6%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 21.0%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 53.3%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $2.71 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images

7. Lower Keys, Florida
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 8,630 (81.0%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 84.6%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 97.9%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $2.58 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

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Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

6. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 8,935 (23.6%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 25.6%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 57.6%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $4.59 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

Source: TheAustinMan / Wikimedia Commons

5. Galveston, Texas
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 10,293 (21.1%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 45.1%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 90.0%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $2.14 billion
> Last major flooding event: August 2017 (Hurricane Harvey)

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Source: Tore Sætre / Wikimedia Commons

4. Key West, Florida
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 11,645 (35.9%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 62.6%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 94.4%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $3.22 billion
> Last major flooding event: September 2017 (Hurricane Irma)

Source: Creative-Family / Getty Images

3. Atlantic City, New Jersey
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 13,687 (34.6%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 50.2%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 92.8%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $1.05 billion
> Last major flooding event: May 2018

Source: meseberg / Getty Images

2. Hoboken, New Jersey
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 14,747 (29.5%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 49.8%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 71.3%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $4.51 billion
> Last major flooding event: April 2018

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Source: Thinkstock

1. Miami Beach, Florida
> Population with homes at risk of flooding in 2060: 39,547 (30.2%)
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2060: 58.5%
> Livable land that will be underwater by 2100: 94.1%
> Property value at risk in 2060: $19.33 billion
> Last major flooding event: May 2018

Methodology

To identify the cities that will soon be underwater, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from “When Rising Seas Hit Home,” published July 2017 by Cambridge Massachusetts-based environmental watchdog group the Union of Concerned Scientists. The study identified U.S. coastal communities where the largest number of residents live in properties that are projected to face by 2060 the highest level of chronic and disruptive flooding, or effective inundation — defined as having 10% or more of livable land area flooded at least 26 times per year. We reviewed the number of properties and total value of properties that are exposed to flood risk based on a “high” scenario calculated by the Union for Concerned scientists, which entails a 6.5 foot rise in sea level by the end of the century. The places on our list, which are county subdivisions, are those in which the largest number of residents live in housing that is exposed to the effective inundation.