From the Star Ledger:
Rising seas could force hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents from their homes by the end of the century, a new report found.
The report, published in Nature Climate Change, analyzed the impact that sea-level rise will have on 22 states and Washington D.C. by 2100.
It paints a grim picture, projecting incessant flooding in coastal counties affecting up to 13.1 million people in the United States.
According to the study, up to 827,449 people in the Garden State would have to relocate due to sea-level rise, most notably on barrier islands, but also in low-lying urban areas, such as Hoboken and Newark.
While New Jersey’s counties appear to fare significantly better against rising seas than some of the other 319 coastal counties in the study — 94 percent of residents in Tyrell County, North Carolina, would be affected for example — even under the low projections, more than 300,000 people could be forced from their homes.
Three counties in the Tampa and Miami area would account for a quarter of the projected 13.1 million affected by sea-level across the country, according the report.
In Cape May County, 38.9 percent of projected residents in 2100, or 79,345 people, would experience the result of climate change. The highest concentration of residents with homes inundated by rising seas would be in Ocean County, with 176,360 people affected.
William Sweet, a NOAA oceanographer with the Center for Oceanographic Products and Services, told NJ Advance Media “it was important to note” that this report only focuses on high tide levels and does not take into account the impact on these areas from “recurrent tidal flooding or larger storm surges.”
“Such tipping points will occur much before high tide itself becomes problematic and much before the year 2100 as presented in this paper,” Sweet said.
In a 2014 report, NOAA said it expects most of the U.S. coastal areas to see 30 days of flooding or more each year by 2050.
Under the three-foot sea-level rise scenario, a projected population of 308,662 people in New Jersey may have to relocate by 2100.
“If the sea level is three feet higher, Atlantic City is basically not viable,” said Strauss, who is also the vice president for sea level and climate impacts at the research group Climate Central. “And the same is probably true for Cape May.
“All of the barrier islands are too low and too developed to handle three-foot sea-level rise.”
Hauer noted that the study doesn’t take into account for any future strategies to manage rising seas, such as barriers, levees, seawalls, elevated developments or coastal wetland restoration.
According to the report, the infrastructure need to protect the coastal areas from rising seas would cost roughly $421 billion by 2100.