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Rising sea levels could claim millions of US acres in next few decades, research shows

Story at a glance


  •  A new analysis released by the research nonprofit Climate Central found that over 600,000 individual parcels of land could be partially below water over the next 30 years.  

  • Out of that at-risk land, at least 48,000 properties are at risk of being completely underwater by 2050.  

  • That loss of land and property means potentially less property tax revenue in some coastal communities.  

Almost 650,000 individual and privately owned parcels of land across 4.4 million acres could be at least partially below water by 2050, a new report predicts.

The research nonprofit Climate Central recently released an analysis outlining the economic impact of rising sea levels stemming from climate change and how private property could be underwater.  

Analysis authors looked at scientific data on rising sea levels, and tidal boundaries as well as data on over 51 million properties, many of which are owned by families or individuals.  


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As a result, the authors found that out of the at-risk parcels, almost 50,000 pieces of property might fall completely below relevant boundary levels, analysts found. Researchers also predicted that property with a value of $108 billion is at risk of being lost by rising seas by 2100 but since complete values were not available for all counties the total is most likely far higher. 

The consequences of water moving inland, and upslope are more far-reaching than flooding basements.  

“This has not only profound implications for property owners but eliminates part of the tax base for property taxes that fund local government operations and our schools,” said Don Bain, senior advisor at Climate Central and lead author of the analysis. “There are many direct and indirect consequences to this.”  

Florida, Louisiana, and Texas are home to the properties at the greatest risk of falling partially under rising waters, the analysis found. Over 140,000 individual parcels may be underwater by 2050 in Florida while over 100,000 could be swallowed up in Louisiana and over 60,000 in Texas.  

North Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey are expected to lose over 40,000 parcels of property as well, the authors note.  

Louisiana has the highest number of properties, 25,000 to be exact, that are predicted to be completely consumed by water over the next thirty years.  

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