A new study finds that the states with the highest percentage of coastal residents, the poorest residents and people who live in low-income areas all face the risk of sea level rising faster than the rest of the US.
Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) compared the extent of sea-level rise in the US with the risk from the effects of climate change and the impact of past changes to the US coastal infrastructure.
The study also looked at whether the state had increased the number of coastal flooding events, which would have an impact on coastal development.
Researchers examined a wide range of data on sea level from tide gauges, tide gauging stations, coastal erosion and sea-floor elevation maps.
The researchers also looked for the presence of coastal wetlands, where the water level rises due to erosion and rising water levels.
“The results show that in many states, coastal flooding is a higher risk than the effects from climate change,” said NOAA scientist Ryan Schenk, the lead author of the study.
“There is also a higher likelihood of coastal inundation in the low-lying states of New York, Florida and Virginia than in the coastal states of California, New Jersey, and New York.”
The study found that coastal flooding could occur in coastal areas from coast to coast, and it was especially likely in low and middle-income states.
“Our study shows that the impact from climate is a real concern for coastal states,” Schenko said.
“But we also see that coastal areas have a lot to offer for coastal development.”
The report said that coastal inundations could also be a result of climate-induced erosion and flooding.
“We also found that the coastal flooding in lowland areas, like New England, is also more likely to be associated with climate change than inland areas, including California, Oregon and Washington,” Schemk said.
Scientists have been concerned about sea level rises in the United States.
Last year, a new study from the United Nations Environment Programme found that about half of the world’s land mass was at least four feet higher than it was in the last ice age.
“It’s not that we have been ignoring sea level,” Schererk said, “It’s that we’ve been making the most of it.”
The results of the new study are consistent with what scientists had previously seen in other studies.
The report found that states with higher rates of coastal development are also more vulnerable to rising sea levels, and that these states were also more affected by previous changes to coastal infrastructure and infrastructure management.
“This is a particularly strong correlation between coastal development and rising sea level, especially in low land areas, because these areas have been the least protected by sea level in the past,” Schensko said, adding that more than 80 percent of coastal infrastructure was either completely or partially built or rebuilt after the Ice Age.
“While there is some uncertainty about how sea level may change over the next century, the fact that there is still considerable uncertainty about what will happen in the future indicates that we need to take steps to mitigate the impacts of climate.”
Follow Stories Like This Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.