Data Models Sea Level Rise Exposure for Future Populations

The Takeaway: Digital Coast data informed climate adaptation strategies throughout the coastal zone.

In low-lying coastal areas, populations are rapidly growing and flooding incidents are increasing. Many predictive models do not take the increasing population numbers into consideration, which means projected risk could be higher than what is often reported. The University of Georgia and Stetson University used NOAA Digital Coast data to model sea level rise with a population projection overlay, and the results are informing climate adaptation plans throughout the coastal zone.

The team estimates that by 2100, three feet of sea level rise will affect an additional 4.2 million people, with Florida accounting for nearly half of the total at-risk population. A rise of six feet will affect 13.1 million people and include 25 counties more than the previous scenario. Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward Counties alone account for more than a quarter of this number. Areas with catastrophic impacts include Tyrrell and Hyde Counties in North Carolina. (2017)

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Partners: Stetson University, University of Georgia