Climate Central Releases New Report on Global Warming: “Surging Seas”

by Duane Nichols on March 14, 2012

Climate Central, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization was formed in 2008 with seed money from The Flora Family Foundation and development funds from 11th Hour Project. The founding board members were Jane Lubchenco, Professor of Marine Biology and Zoology at Oregon State University; Stephen Pacala, Professor of Biology and Director of Princeton’s Institute for the Environment; and Wendy Schmidt, founder of The 11th Hour Project. Headquarters is in Princeton, NJ and an office in Palo Alto, CA.

The climate crisis isn’t just some far-off threat, it’s a clear and present danger. Therefore, Climate Central has created a unique form of public outreach, informed by our own original research, targeted to local markets, and designed to make Americans feel the power of what’s really happening to the climate. The goal is not just to inform people, but to inspire them to support the actions needed to keep the crises from getting worse.

A report from Climate Central entitled “Surging Seas” as been prepared and is posted on-line.  This report can be summarized thusly:

Global warming has raised sea level about 8 inches since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Scientists expect 20 to 80 more inches this century, a lot depending upon how much more heat-trapping pollution humanity puts into the sky. This study makes mid-range projections of 1-8 inches by 2030, and 4-19 inches by 2050, depending upon location across the contiguous 48 states.

The increases are likely to cause an enormous amount of damage. At three quarters of the 55 sites analyzed in this report, century levels are higher than 4 feet above the high tide line. Yet across the country, nearly 5 million people live in 2.6 million homes at less than 4 feet above high tide. In 285 cities and towns, more than half the population lives on land below this line, potential victims of increasingly likely climate-induced coastal flooding. 3.7 million live less than 1 meter above the tide.

This report and its associated materials, based on two just-published peer-reviewed studies, is the first major national analysis of sea level rise in 20 years, and the first one ever to include:

  • Estimates of land, population and housing at risk;
  • Evaluations of every low-lying coastal town, city, county and state in the contiguous U.S.;
  • Localized timelines of storm surge threats integrating local sea level rise projections; and
  • A freely available interactive map and data to download online (see

In order to avoid the worst impacts from sea rise, we all need to work to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases (mainly methane and carbon dioxide) and work to diminish the remaining danger by preparing for higher seas in coastal cities and counties everywhere.

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