Climate Change     

Climate Change`

The global average temperature is currently on track to reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels by midcentury. This is already leading to impacts such as more frequent and intense storms, droughts, and heat waves. The impacts on humans include losses from flooding, decreased crop yields, and heat stress. Every ecosystem will be negatively impacted. This includes the oceans and the human activity they support.  

At the same time, oceans coastal ecosystems can plan a strong role in the mitigation of global Co2 emissions. The oceans and their ecosystems serve as carbon sinks, sequestering vast amounts of carbon dioxide. That’s the promise of Blue Carbon. At the same time, when these ecosystems are damaged, they can emit carbon dioxide and methane which leads to acceleration of climate change.  

Because climate plays such a large role in the research of the Center for the Blue Economy, the National Ocean Economics program has begun to collect and organize data related to climate change and its impacts on the world’s oceans.

Sea Level Rise:

One impact of climate change is rising water levels in seas and oceans. If current warming trends continue, we can expect to see, at a minimum, a one foot increase in global sea level by the middle of the century. However, the water will rise unevenly across the world due to local conditions and geography. Much the work we do involves estimate the local effects of sea level rise on coastal communities.   In the coming months, the NOEP will release data sets which track the economic impacts due to Sea Level Rise.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean Coastal Vulnerability  


The data available here quantifies the potential impacts of threats like sea level rise, rising ocean temperatures and changes in the ocean’s chemistry to communities and businesses in 63 counties and independent cities along the coast from New York to Virginia. It was compiled by the Center for the Blue Economy for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocea through a grant from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The challenges posed by sea level rise are especially pronounced in the Mid-Atlantic, the most densely populated stretch of coastline in the country. The region’s waterfront is home to America’s largest city, New York; two of its busiest ports in New York/New Jersey and Hampton Roads, Virginia; and iconic beach destinations that have entertained summer tourists for generations.

The analysis considered the ramifications of both temporary flooding events and the permanent inundation of some areas that would occur if sea levels were to rise by 3 or 6 feet by the year 2100 – two scenarios that are commonly assumed by planners throughout the region. Among the findings:

  • Approximately 14.6 million people live in Census tracts adjacent to the ocean, Chesapeake or Delaware bays. In the 3-foot scenario, the resulting flooded area could affect 1.7 million people and in the 6-foot scenario, 2.1 million people.
  • Today, 912,000 housing units would be vulnerable to flooding in the 3-foot scenario and 1.1 million in the 6-foot scenario. These include 212,000 seasonal units in the 3-foot scenario and 248,000 in the 6-foot scenario.
  • Approximately 557,000 jobs would be vulnerable in the 3-foot scenario and 974,000 in the 6-foot scenario.

Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Data