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Map shows the US cities most at risk of ending up underwater | US News

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Map shows the US cities most at risk of ending up underwater | US News

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A new map projects future inundation of 32 coastal cities in the US (Picture: Leonard Ohenhen et al)

Two dozen US cities are at risk of going underwater as sea level rises and land sinks.

A new map by Virginia Tech researchers reveals the cities in danger zones along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the Gulf of Mexico.

The study published in Nature examined the flooding potential for 32 cities across the coasts using sea level rise projections, tide charts and sinking land measurements obtained via satellite.

It projects that up to 500,000 Americans could be affected and one in 35 private properties could experience flood damage over the next 30 years.

Caption: Future inundation of coastal areas in 32 coastal cities (Picture: Leonard Ohenhen et al.) Provider: Leonard Ohenhen et al. Copyright: Leonard Ohenhen et al. (Picture: Leonard Ohenhen et al)

‘One of the challenges we have with communicating the issue of sea-level rise and land subsidence broadly is it often seems like a long-term problem, like something whose impacts will only manifest at the end of the century, which many people may not care about,’ stated the study’s lead author, graduate student Leonard Ohenhen

‘What we’ve done here is focused the picture on the short term, just 26 years from now.’

The study, released in early March, found that 24 of the 32 cities are sinking more than 2 millimeters every year-and-a-half. It represents a significant amount considering sea-level rise overtime, said Ohenhen, who is working at Virginia Tech’s Earth Observation and Innovation Lab.

He offered a sinking boat analogy.

Caption: Future inundation of coastal areas in 32 coastal cities (Picture: Leonard Ohenhen et al.) Provider: Leonard Ohenhen et al. Copyright: Leonard Ohenhen et al. (Picture: Leonard Ohenhen et al)

‘Imagine you are in that boat with a steady leak, slowly causing the boat to sink. That leak symbolizes sea-level rise or broadly flooding,’ Ohenhen said.

‘What would happen if it also starts raining? Even a minor rainfall or drizzle would cause the boat to sink more quickly than you thought it would.’

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The 32 cities have 131 flood control structures combined, but half of them are on the California coast. The Atlantic coast is more vulnerable, with only three of 11 highlighted cities having floodwalls or levees.

Miami is among the cities at highest risk of vanishing underwater. South Florida could lose roughly 80,000 homes, experts said, and 122,000 residents are at risk and the damage could amount to $31billion.

An abandoned car in a flooded area is seen below the Fashion Valley Trolley Station during the aftermath of the storm in San Diego, California (Picture: Getty Images)

Some coastal cities, particularly along the Gulf Coast, have added impacts of socioeconomic and racial factors. The risk in cities including New Orleans, Louisiana, and Port Arthur, Texas, could disproportionately affect racial minorities and properties with a lower-than-median value.

‘The whole purpose of this paper is to provide data to support decisions,’ stated associate professor Manoochehr Shirzaei.

‘It’s likely nobody has received the entire picture until this study, which creates probably the first comprehensive picture of what’s happen in the not-too-distant future.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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