Scientific research indicates sea levels worldwide have been rising at a rate of 0.14 inches (3.5 millimeters) per year since the early 1990s. The trend, linked to global warming, puts thousands of coastal cities, like Cape Charles at risk of being submerged by the ocean.
Climate Central has produced a Surging Seas global Risk Zone Map which provides the ability to explore local sea level rise projections at over 1,000 tide gauges on 6 continents. Map areas below the selected water level are displayed as satellite imagery shaded in blue indicating vulnerability to flooding from combined sea level rise, storm surge, and tides, or to permanent submergence by long-term sea level rise. Map areas above the selected water level are shown in map style using white and pale grays.
This analysis used the best available U.S. national coverage elevation dataset at the time. Risk Zone Map now uses far more accurate laser-based (lidar) elevation data in the U.S.
Outside of the U.S., very little lidar data is available. Instead, we use radar satellite-based data collected from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). This elevation data covers nearly the entire populated world, but is less accurate than lidar. SRTM’s pixel resolution is lower, and in areas of dense urban development and vegetation, SRTM tends to overestimate elevation. Recent work also suggests that SRTM usually underpredicts exposure from sea level rise and coastal flooding. Outside the U.S., our flood maps should therefore be seen as likely lower bounds on the extent of potential inundation for each water level. View the map below: