News & Politics

5 DC Landmarks That Could Be Affected By Climate Change

Washington versus the water level.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

This is an excerpt from our package of articles about what Washington will look like over the next few decades. For the full package, see our April 2015 issue—on newsstands now, or purchase the digital edition optimized for your tablet hereand come back to the website for more stories over the next few weeks.

Here’s a glimpse into our vulnerable future:

1.8 feet: How much higher the Anacostia and Potomac rivers could rise by 2050.

49 percent: Chance that a flood exceeding today’s record (7.9 feet above the local high-tide line) will occur by 2040 in Climate Central’s medium-risk scenario. In the organization’s worst-case scenario, floods of this level will become annual events by 2100.

What would such flooding affect? In the District, here are the things situated no higher than six feet above the high-tide line:

  • Property totaling $4.6 billion
  • 1,400 people in 400 homes
  • 21 miles of road
  • The National Museum of the US Navy
  • Six hazardous-waste sites
  • Portions of three Zip codes—20024 (Southwest DC), 20019 (Greenway), and 20372 (Foggy Bottom).

Here are a few landmarks that would be at least partially submerged in a flood ten feet above the high-tide line (which Climate Central predicts will likely occur by 2100):

Jefferson Memorial

Reflecting Pool

Photograph by William S. Kuta/Alamy

Washington Navy Yard

Washington Navy Yard. Photograph by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

Fort McNair

Photograph by AFP/Getty Images.

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling

Photograph by Alex Brandon/AP Images.

This article appears in our April 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Staff Writer

Michael J. Gaynor has written about fake Navy SEALs, a town without cell phones, his Russian spy landlord, and many more weird and fascinating stories for the Washingtonian. He lives in DC, where his landlord is no longer a Russian spy.