The rate of future global sea-level rise will likely increase due to elevated ocean temperatures and land-ice loss. Coastal properties are expected to become more prone to coastal flooding in coming decades due to relative sea-level rise caused by both global and local factors. Translating sea-level rise projections into lost physical and economic value is critical for companies, governments, and regulators. We use probability distributions of local sea-level rise projections, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) coastal digital elevation models, and CoreLogic housing data to estimate the timing of future sea-level rise inundation and a range of housing market impairments in four U.S. coastal metros (Atlantic City, NJ; Miami, FL; Galveston, TX; and Newport-San Pedro, CA) for a series of climate scenarios. We implement a novel methodology, refining estimates for the timing for future inundation, considering both housing properties’ elevation above the tidal datum (Mean Higher High Water-MHHW), and hydrologic connectivity to the ocean—a critical consideration where natural or human-built features alter the relationship between sea levels and inundation. The unique risk factors in our four metros (housing market, topography, and local sea level) illustrate how our methods are applicable across geographies and scales of observation. Our results provide an important perspective on the timing of future losses, the associated uncertainty, and highlight positive (high-skewed) asymmetry of risk from sea-level rise inundation. This information can aid planners, policy makers, and investors in cost-benefit decision making related to mitigation, adaptation, and remediation at the local and national levels.
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Under current carbon emission policies and energy transitions, empirical evidence would suggest that RCP8.5 is less likely, and we are currently closer to a medium GHG concentration scenario (RCP4.5) (Hausfather and Peters 2020).
We convert all DEMs from the original vertical datum of the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88) and vertical units of meters to the same vertical datum (MHHW) and vertical units (feet) as the Sea-Level Rise Viewer inundation shapefiles using NOAA’s VDatum conversion tool (NOAAd 2019).
With the climate risk field advancing quickly, other groups have started to produce proprietary national level flood risk models (First Street Foundation 2020). However, the granular private label flood data from these providers are only available at cost and use models not available in the public domain. Our SLR risk-matching methods use publicly available spatial and climate risk datasets, which are freely available to risk practitioners. Thus, each component of our risk methodology is transparent and easy to replicate: (1) Refined measure of property inundation elevation; (2) Estimated timing of SLR inundation; (3) SLR risk accounting for climate uncertainty.
We focus our discussion of results on the medium GHG scenario (RCP 4.5) for both K14 and DP16 as recent scientific evidence would suggest that we are closest to the medium scenario (Hausfather and Peters 2020). For detailed results across all metros and climate scenarios, see supplemental material section 2.
Recent survey evidence indicates that coastal homeowners that are most at risk are reluctant to acknowledge the risks they face from SLR and coastal inundation (Palm and Bolsen 2020).
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and are not attributable to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the Federal Reserve System, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Rodziewicz: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; Amante: Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado Boulder at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI); Dice: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; Wahl: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) (retired).
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Rodziewicz, D., Amante, C.J., Dice, J. et al. Housing market impairment from future sea-level rise inundation. Environ Syst Decis 42, 637–656 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-022-09842-6
- Climate risk
- Climate economics
- Sea-level rise
- Natural hazards