Sea level rise is one of the more commonly recognized consequences of climate change, with a majority of Americans expressing concern about its environmental and economic impacts. Despite this unease, there are gaps in public understanding of how coastal communities should prepare for increased flooding and opportunities to reduce emissions to alleviate the threat. Communications strategies that help individuals visualize the risks and available options can help build support for solutions.
The Union of Concerned Scientists released an analysis of sea level rise along the continental U.S. coastline, including an interactive mapping tool that allows users to discover which communities are facing severe and chronic inundation. The detailed maps show projections of when cities and towns along the coast can expect to experience flooding based on different climate scenarios and how the impacts may be lessened through emissions reductions. The project is intended as a “wake-up call” to the actions that will be necessary to adequately respond to the threat of sea level rise and includes a call for equitable engagement approaches to involve low-income communities and communities of color in the decision-making process.