New Report Names Miami the “Most Vulnerable” City in the World for Sea Level Rise Flooding

A new report by Resources for the Future (RFF), a nonpartisan think tank, concludes that Miami will soon become “the most vulnerable major coastal city in the world” for sea level rise flooding, storm surges and other impacts of climate change. The experts based their conclusion on the fact that Miami has billions of dollars worth of real estate and other assets that will be put increasingly at-risk as the seas continue to rise between now 2040.

The RFF published a graphic-rich report titled “Understanding Sea Level Rise in Florida, 2040” last week that illustrates the challenges faced by Miami and the entire state of Florida. The report was created using data collected by the Climate Impact Lab, a group of scientists, economists and other experts who are trying to quantify the impact climate change will have on the world economy in real numbers.

In a press release, the RFF listed the following potential impacts on Florida if the world doesn’t reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global warming and sea level rise flooding:

  • Severe “100-year floods” will potentially occur once every few years rather than once a century, endangering about 300,000 homes, 2,500 miles of roadways, 30 schools, and four hospitals statewide.
  • Rising seas also threaten the 490,000 Floridians who live on land less than 3 feet above the high-water mark, and coastal properties worth an estimated $145 billion in property value. The counties with the largest number of people facing these risks are Miami-Dade, Broward, Pinellas, Monroe, and Hillsborough.
  • In some areas—the Keys in particular—it is unlikely that communities will be able to meet the costs of raising all public roadways to accommodate higher sea levels by 2045, suggesting that some roads and neighborhoods will need to be abandoned.
  • Miami has over $400 billion in assets put at risk by coastal flooding and storms—the largest amount of any major coastal city in the world.
  • Extreme temperatures and other impacts will seriously affect public health. In a moderate emissions scenario, the rate of mortality is projected to increase by 3.8 deaths per 100,000 Florida residents per year—that’s roughly 1,000 additional deaths annually by 2035.
  • Federal carbon pricing policies, which would reduce these risks, are projected to cost less than $1,000 annually for Florida households earning under $99,000 per year, with costs for higher earners reaching as high as $5,000 annually.

The study’s co-authors said: “Addressing climate change has up-front costs. But failing to address climate change? Those costs are likely to be much greater and long lasting.”

The RFF research was funded by the VoLo Foundation, a private family foundation established to educate the public to create a sustainable and secure planet for generations to come. 

This report further reinforces the fact that buyers, sellers, owners and real estate agents in coastal areas need to be aware of sea level rise and its impact on a property of interest, neighborhood and community to make informed decisions that will protect their financial futures.

Author: Larry Richardson

Larry Richardson relies on his journalism, real estate, photography and videography experience and education to create SeaLevelRiseRealEstate.com and annual editions of "7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions for Buyers, Sellers, Owners & Real Estate Agents." Richardson, an inactive but licensed real estate agent in Florida with a dozen years of experience, also owns StepByStepChef.com, which features YouTube videos with over 10 million views