Rising Seas

February 16, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 7
Are cities prepared for the growing threat?
By Christopher Swope


Miami Beach and Miami (in background) face (Cover: Getty Images/Joe Raedle)
Miami Beach and Miami (in background) face the possibility of unprecedented flooding by century's end due to global warming and rising seas. Losses from annual flooding in the world's 136 largest coastal cities could increase from $6 billion in 2005 to $1 trillion or more by 2100, with 153 million people displaced worldwide. (Cover: Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

Global warming is causing oceans to rise at alarming rates, threatening coastal cities across the globe with flooding. The East Coast of the United States is especially vulnerable, with Miami, New York City and Boston among the world's 10 most exposed metro areas. Scientists warn that under the most extreme scenarios, annual flooding worldwide could cause $1 trillion in losses by 2100 and submerge areas that are now home to more than 150 million people. But how much the seas will rise, and when, is unclear. Because of that uncertainty — and the popularity of waterfronts among developers and homeowners — cities are grappling with hard questions. How much sea level rise should they plan for, and how much time do they have? Should cities build expensive defenses or pull back from coastlines? South Florida is among the most aggressive at addressing sea level rise, investing millions of dollars in elevated highways, flood pumps and seawalls. In the Netherlands, engineers are devising ways to co-exist with rising tides, offering potential solutions that officials across the globe are studying.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Feb. 16, 2018  Rising Seas
Feb. 22, 2013  Coastal Development
Aug. 21, 1998  Coastal Development
Feb. 07, 1992  Threatened Coastlines
Nov. 02, 1984  America's Threatened Coastlines
Nov. 26, 1976  Coastal Zone Management
Feb. 25, 1970  Coastal Conservation
Climate Change
Congress Actions
Consumer Behavior
General International Relations
Humanitarian Assistance
Natural Disasters
Party Politics
Regional Planning and Urbanization
Wetlands, Everglades, and Coastal Areas