Residents of coastal communities in the U.S. can soon search for how much sea level rise is expected to affect their regions by zip code, using a new interactive map.
The mapping tool, which was launched in 2012 in New York, New Jersey and Florida, is expanding across the East Coast, Pacific states and the rest of the coastal U.S. this summer. The program, called “Surging Seas,” uses data from federal agencies to map sea level rise by zip code, adding in details such as population density and property value. The program also maps out flood risk for regions by decade, and breaks down who and what is most at risk in each region from rising sea levels — Caucasian vs. Hispanic populations, for instance, and schools vs. homes and libraries.
“This is a brave new world. Rising seas are posing a totally new challenge to American ingenuity,” Ben Strauss, vice president for climate impacts at Climate Central told USA Today.
CREDIT: Climate Central
Sea level rise is a major concern in many parts of the coastal U.S., posing a serious threat to counties in South Florida, with their flat topography and porous foundation. Hurricane Sandy also illustrated how much sea level rise could threaten the Northeast — some essential services like hospitals were caught unawares by the storm, which forced emergency evacuations in multiple hospitals.
Surging Seas isn’t the only environmentally-focused mapping tool to come out in recent months. In November, Property Shark released a map that shows how many toxic areas there are in New York, a tool that goes beyond Superfund sites to display toxic patches created by gasoline and other spills, tank failures, air discharge facilities, hazardous waste storage facilities and other polluting factors. A Google Earth Engine map shows tree losses and gains around the world, and Global Forest Watch provides a similar service. The New York Times also has an interactive map that shows where facilities that have polluted water are located around the country.