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These Maps Illustrate What Might Happen To Coastal Cities When Sea Levels Rise

As sea levels rise due to climate change, coastal cities face a multitude of potential challenges and threats. The world is guaranteed to see two feet of sea level rise by 2100. 

The consequences are broad and encompass various aspects of urban life. One significant impact is the increased risk of coastal flooding and inundation, especially during storm surges and extreme weather events. As sea levels elevate, low-lying coastal areas become more susceptible to flooding, posing immediate dangers to infrastructure, property, and human lives.

Erosion of coastal landscapes is another critical concern. Rising sea levels contribute to the degradation of shorelines, leading to the loss of beaches, wetlands, and other natural buffers. This erosion not only diminishes the aesthetic and recreational value of coastal areas but also reduces their capacity to absorb the impact of storms, leaving inland areas more vulnerable to flooding.

The intrusion of saltwater into freshwater resources is a consequential threat. As sea levels rise, saltwater can infiltrate coastal aquifers and estuaries, jeopardizing sources of drinking water and agricultural irrigation. This intrusion can have far-reaching implications for both human populations and ecosystems, challenging the sustainability of coastal communities.

Infrastructure, including ports, roads, and buildings, faces increased exposure to saltwater corrosion and damage. Coastal cities often host critical economic hubs and transportation networks, and the degradation of infrastructure can disrupt trade, transportation, and overall economic activities.

Furthermore, the displacement of populations is a potential social consequence. As coastal areas become less habitable due to rising sea levels and associated risks, residents may be forced to relocate, leading to a strain on resources, potential conflict, and challenges in managing mass migrations.

More than 600 million people live in coastal areas that are less than 30 feet above sea level. 311,000 houses in the United States will be vulnerable to chronic flooding by 2045.

Coastal cities are first in line for big changes, and some that can afford it are gearing up to spend billions to make sure they survive.


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