Report: Climate Change Threatens Carolina Coasts with Record Sea Levels

Jul 22, 2014 10:40 AM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Climate change is threatening the Carolina coastlines and putting billions of dollars of property at risk, according to a new analysis from a New Jersey-based nonprofit.

Climate Central, a group comprising scientists and journalists, has released analyses of the extreme floods expected to hit South Carolina and North Carolina, respectively, the Associated Press reported.

The group's reports show that people on the coastline need to "begin to develop strategies to make their communities more resilient to different sea level rise scenarios," said Frank Knapp, the president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, as quoted by the AP.

South Carolina will likely suffer from extreme flooding of more than 4 feet above high tide within 40 years, the group said in an analysis released on Monday. The Palmetto State's "danger zone" holds 54,000 homes and $24 billion in property.

While the state has historically seen sea levels rise by around 1.2 inches per decade, the new report predicts that it will rise 12 inches by 2050.

Most of North Carolina's danger zone is in the Wilmington area. The state has around $9 billion in property and 61,000 homes that are less than 4 feet above high tide.

North Carolina has historically seen sea levels rise by around .8 inches a decade, but by 2050 that figure is expected to rise to 11 inches, according to the report.

Two years ago, Climate Central used National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maps to examine communities threatened by flooding in states along the coast, but the new reports are much more detailed, lead author Ben Strauss told the AP.

The group's latest maps have 100 more parameters that weren't included in the earlier analyses, including "property values, infrastructure, schools, churches, power plants and the like that could be inundated in floods."

An interactive map with data from the report is available here.  

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