Climate Change Could Be Devastating For Homeowners In Coastal Cities

While climate change is a pressing global concern, it isn’t at the top of discussions about the future of the real estate market. But a recent report shows how it could have devastating implications for housing in the U.S.

Almost 1.9 million houses nationwide could be underwater by 2100 if scientists’ more dire predictions come to pass, according to a report from real estate company Zillow released last week. Almost 300 cities would lose at least half their homes, the report states.

Zillow looked at which existing houses would be affected if sea levels rise 6 feet. They determined which houses would be underwater using maps from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that show how sea level rise will affect coastlines.

According to the EPA, estimates for sea level rise by the end of the century range between 1 and 4 feet, with an uncertainty range of 0.66 to 6.6 feet. In a recent study, researchers argue that earlier predictions don’t sufficiently account for Antarctica’s melting ice and that a more accurate estimate is over 6 feet of sea level rise if greenhouse gas emissions don’t go down.  

Sea levels began to climb in the 1900s, and evidence suggests the rate of their rise has accelerated, according to NOAA. There are three main reasons for rising sea levels, according to National Geographic: water expansion due to warming oceans; glacier and polar ice cap melt; and ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica.

According to Zillow’s report, which is based on an extreme scenario for sea level rise, the nearly 1.9 million houses that would be underwater represent about 2 percent of the housing stock in the U.S. and are worth a combined $882 billion. For comparison, 1.1 million homes were built last year.

Florida would take the largest hit, with one in eight houses underwater if sea levels rise 6 feet. More than 30 percent of homes in Miami would be at risk.

See how homes in Miami and other coastal cities would be affected by 6 feet of sea level rise in Zillow’s maps. (Story continues below.)

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