Sea Into the Future: New Interactive Map Shows Sea-Level Rise by Zip Code

A new interactive map brings the reality of sea-level rise home.

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 ocean—or 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 adventure…one 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.

Snapshots of sea-level rise in the Left Coast cities of Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and the San Francisco Bay Area:


↑ Sea-level rise in Vancouver, BC.


↑ Sea-level rise in Seattle.


↑ Sea-level rise in Portland, Oregon.

Bay Area sea level rise

↑ Sea-level rise in the San Francisco Bay Area. Huge losses extend up the bay to Sacramento.

This post first appeared in OnEarth.

By Clara Chaisson

Clara Chaisson is a Boston-based writer and Earthwire's associate editor. She previously reported for Audubon magazine, and recently graduated from Boston University with an M.S. in science journalism.