What Could Disappear

Nov 27, 2012 by

UPDATED November 24, 2012

Maps show coastal and low-lying areas that would be permanently flooded, without engineered protection, in three levels of higher seas. Percentages are the portion of dry, habitable land within the city limits of places listed that would be permanently submerged.

  • Today’s waterways
  • Land submerged by rising oceans
Select sea level rise over current level:

Notes on sea level estimates


12% flooded

Flooding extends over much of downtown and many waterfront communities, like Dundalk.



37% flooded


86% flooded

The downtown island shrinks to mostly Beacon Hill. Many shore communities are flooded.

Charleston, S.C.

80% flooded

The coast moves up to 10 miles inland. The old city is submerged.



5% flooded


100% flooded

The Space Center and the vast industrial zone along the Houston Ship Channel are inundated; the sea moves inland as much as 15 miles.

Jacksonville, Fla.

56% flooded

Most of the built-up areas in the city are submerged.

Los Angeles area

Los Angeles

3% flooded

Long Beach

45% flooded

Huntington Beach

72% flooded

In much of Long Beach and Huntington Beach, the Pacific moves up to four miles inland.

Long Island

21% flooded

All barrier islands gone. The southern shore has moved one to five miles inland in most places.



99% flooded

Miami Beach

100% flooded

The entire metropolitan area is permanently flooded.

Mobile, Ala.

36% flooded

Downtown is inundated. Mobile Bay is several miles wider.

New Jersey

Atlantic City

100% flooded


52% flooded

Jersey City

62% flooded

Downtown Newark, downtown Jersey City, Atlantic City, most of the state’s coastal towns and the Cape May peninsula are all gone.

New Orleans

100% flooded

The gulf shore advances to Interstate 12.

New York City

39% flooded

Large portions of all five boroughs are gone, including much of Manhattan below 34th Street.

Northern California

San Francisco

19% flooded


62% flooded

Nearly two-thirds of Sacramento, including downtown, is inundated.


21% flooded

Much of the historic district and South Philadelphia are submerged, as is the vast refinery complex along the Schuylkill. The Delaware swells to five miles wide.

Portland, Me.

16% flooded

Water encroaches on parts of the downtown district and much of South Portland.

Portland, Ore.

16% flooded

The Columbia shaves two miles off the north side of Portland.

Providence, R.I.

13% flooded

A larger section of the downtown area is under water.

San Diego

6% flooded

Coronado Island is mostly gone.

Savannah, Ga.

87% flooded

Most of the region is under water, with only small sections of Savannah spared.



13% flooded


14% flooded

Much of the large suburb of Kent is flooded.

Tampa Bay area


50% flooded

St. Petersburg

70% flooded

Downtown Tampa, Tampa International Airport and Tarpon Springs are swamped. Parts of Clearwater survive on an island; St. Petersburg is reduced to a smaller island.

Virginia Beach-Norfolk


100% flooded

Virginia Beach

99% flooded

Newport News

39% flooded

Most of the region is permanently submerged.


14% flooded

Much of central Washington below Constitution Avenue is inundated, as are National Airport and parts of Old Town Alexandria.

Wilmington, Del.

41% flooded

The Delaware is about 10 miles wide at New Castle.

Notes:These maps are based on elevation data from the U.S. Geological Survey and tidal level data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maps show the extent of potential flooding relative to local high tide.The 25-foot sea level rise is based on a 2012 study in the journal Science, which augmented findings from a 2009 Nature study. They found that 125,000 years ago — a period that may have been warmer than today but cooler than what scientists expect later this century without sharp pollution cuts — the seas were about 20 to 30 feet higher than today. If temperatures climb as expected in this century, scientists believe it would take centuries for seas to rise 20 to 30 feet as a result, because ice sheet decay responds slowly to warming.


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Sources: Remik Ziemlinski, Climate Central; U.S. Geological Survey; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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