The Navy Yard and Georgetown waterfronts are picturesque, but they are also on the front lines of climate change.
According to a study released this month by Climate Central, 1,350 acres of DC land could suffer floods by 2100—and that’s the mid-range estimate. “Under high-range projections,” the report says, “there is a near certain chance of flooding above ten feet by end of century.” The study also predicts sea level could rise about four feet.
The work of a task force led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the report assesses the District’s flood risks as sea levels rise, putting potential property damage at $4.6 billion if water rises six feet above current levels.
Will your neighborhood be under water? Climate Central provides a handy map, the Surging Seas Risk Finder, that allows you to see the vulnerabilities at various water levels. The map details other effects, such as contamination risks if certain EPA-designated waste sites are flooded, as well as the breakdown of population by race in affected neighborhoods.
The study also assesses the chance of floods exceeding the highest-ever observed flood in Washington: 7.9 feet above the local high-tide line. “Floods exceeding today’s record become annual events by 2100 under the highest sea level rise scenario,” according to the report.
Climate Central includes metrics like social vulnerability and race to “synthesize socioeconomic characteristics of populations—characteristics known to influence a community’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from hazard events like floods.” The most at-risk neighborhoods include the wealthier areas of Foggy Bottom and Southwest and statistically poorer Greenway Northeast.
The report is timely, coming on the heels of the largest climate-change march in history and a United Nations meeting to discuss climate change in New York City.