New Jersey and the Surging Sea: A Vulnerability Assessment with Projections for Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Risk

Claudia Tebaldi, Scott Kulp, Susan Cutter, Chris Emrich, Daniel Rizza, Daniel Yawitz
Created: 10/30/2013 -

Abstract

Sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate, and the scientific community is confident that global warming is the most important cause. Higher sea levels translate to more and higher coastal floods. Using local sea level projections based on National Climate Assessment scenarios, this analysis finds a 3-in-4 chance of historically unprecedented coastal flooding in the northern New Jersey/New York Harbor area by 2100, assuming sea level rises on the fast end of the spectrum; or a 1-in-10 chance under a slow rise scenario as might be expected under reduced carbon emissions. We find that sea level rise from warming has already increased the likelihood of extreme flooding in the area – flooding high enough to seriously threaten the PATH transit system – by 50%.

285 square miles of land lie less than 5 feet above the high tide line in New Jersey. This land is home for 295,000 residents, 23% of whom live in just 3 zip codes. $114 billion in property value sits on the same land, as do some 2,100 miles of road, 1,600 EPA-listed sites, and 45 public schools. These numbers nearly double when assessed at 9 feet above the high tide line – Sandy’s peak flood elevation as measured at the Battery in New York City, and most likely close to the peak flood height at Sandy Hook, NJ, as well.

In the coastal and low-lying counties of New Jersey, the most socially vulnerable populations are twice as likely than the population as a whole to be flooded at either level.

Published On

Organization(s)

Climate Central is an independent nonprofit organization that was founded in 2008 to meet the need for a central authoritative source for climate change information.

Climate Central scientists publish peer-reviewed research on climate science; energy; impacts such as sea level rise; climate attribution and more. But our work isn't confined to scientific journals. We investigate and synthesize weather and climate data and science to equip local communities and media with the tools they need to visualize the threat of climate change and the need for practical solutions.

Keywords

Scale
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Disaster Risk Management
Land Use Planning
Policy
Transportation / Infrastructure
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Monitor climate change impacts and adaptation efficacy
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Create or modify shoreline management measures
Develop disaster preparedness plans and policies
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Flooding
Sea level rise
Region
Northeast