More than 13 million residents living along the United States coastlines are at risk of flooding.
A new study reveals that 13.1 million people could be affected by flooding due to rising sea levels by the end of the century, adding that residents could be forced to locate to higher ground.
The study, published on Monday in Nature Climate Change, notes that the number of people at risk of the flooding is three times than previously studied. This could lead to a widespread resettlement, equaling the Great Migration of African Americans in the 20th century.
According to Reuters, Florida will be most threatened by the rising sea levels. If sea levels here rise by 6 inches, as many as 6.06 million people could be affected. Louisiana, with 1.29 people in danger, and California, 1 million, are also at great risk.
New York, with 901,000 people at risk; New Jersey, with 827,000 people; Virginia, with 476,000 people and Massachusetts, with 428,000 people, are some of the other states that face significant danger.
One of the researchers, Deepak Mishra, who is a professor at the University of Georgia, said, “As the sea level rises, coastal parts of Florida will be inundated. Sea level rise is the phenomenon that makes climate change a reality for millions of people worldwide. The sheer volume of people at risk of displacement and becoming climate refugees is the main threat.”
Almost 80 percent displacement is projected to occur in Florida‘s Monroe County, site of the Florida Keys; and North Carolina’s Hyde and Tyrrell counties.
Mathew Hauer, coauthor of the study, said that factors like current population and infrastructure help assess how rising sea levels affect us. “Coastal communities are among some of the most rapidly growing in the United States, so we have to think about the anticipated expansion of those populations that is likely to occur in this century,” he said.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the team of researchers combined data such as elevations and flood risks, with small-scale population projections for U.S. coastal states and projected sea level rise from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The projections revealed that a rise in sea levels by 35.4 inches by 2100 could affect 4.2 million people residing along the coastlines. However, if the sea levels rise by 70.9 inches, as many as 13.1 million people could be risk.