More than 386,000 Homes at Risk of Coastal Flooding by 2050
The specter of rising sea levels looms for the more than 40 percent of the U.S. population living in coastal counties. Because sea levels rise slowly and their effects worsen over time, the threat can seem remote. But even now, it’s clear that major financial losses are likely within the next three decades – the lifetime of a typical 30-year mortgage signed in the next couple years.
It is no stretch to say that rising sea levels caused by emissions-driven pollution and warming is one of the greatest threats to homes and their owners that this country has faced. Some are facing acute effects already.
By 2050, more than 386,000 existing homes in U.S. coastal areas are likely to be at risk of permanent inundation from sea level rise alone, or of chronic flooding from a combination of sea level rise and tides and storm surges, if greenhouse gas emissions climb unchecked. The homes are worth $209.6 billion in 2018 dollars – more than four times the estimated insured losses of Hurricane Katrina in 2017 dollars.
Moderate emissions cuts, roughly in line with the Paris agreement on climate, could reduce the number to a little more than 348,000, according to a new analysis and maps that pair Zillow’s housing data with Climate Central’s climate-science expertise. (A companion report focuses on new construction in the riskiest areas.)