Sea Into the Future

This interactive map shows what kind of sea-level rise we're in for under different emissions scenarios.

October 14, 2015

In the run-up to the climate conference in Paris, many experts are saying that the national pledges submitted to the United Nations so far just aren’t enough. A new interactive map, based on a study by Climate Central scientists, brings that reality home by showing how different outcomes of the crucial meeting will either save several U.S. cities from the encroaching oceanor send them into the sea.

Just type in a city name or zip code and then compare what various emissions scenarios will bring. Unchecked pollution through the end of the century could lead to 14 to 33 feet of global sea-level rise, inundating 20 million to 31 million Americans. That would include a majority of the residents living in more than 1,000 municipalities and in more than 20 cities with a population greater than 100,000. But should we choose another with extreme carbon cuts (with emissions peaking by 2020, followed by a 50-year drop to near zero), we could reduce those threats by more than half. Those cutbacks, however, are much more substantial than what the current targets would achieve. World leaders, it’s up to you to decide if we’re sunk.  

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.