A new study finds sea level is rising faster than many thought, and the impact on New Jersey coastal communities will be dramatic, in some cases catastrophic.

The analysis, which focuses on the risk of chronic flooding due to accelerating sea level rise, finds as many as 311,000 coastal homes in America with a collective market value of $117.5 billion in will be in the danger zone within the next 30 years.

According to Rachel Cleetus, the policy director of the climate and energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, New Jersey’s coastal real estate is among the most exposed in the nation.

“The Garden State will see some pretty sobering sea level rise through the course of the century, an average of 2.1 feet by 2045, and 7.3 feet by 2100,” she said.

The report finds New Jersey is only second in the nation to Florida for most homes at risk because of rising sea levels.

“By 2045, more than 62,000 of today’s residential properties, which are currently home to about 80,000 people, are at risk of chronic inundation," she said.

NJ towns that would see most inundation: 2045

Ranked by percentage of useable land that would see inundation under worst-case sea level rise scenario.

West Wildwood88
Little Ferry56
Ship Bottom49
Beach Haven48
Bay Head47
Sea Bright42
Ocean City39
North Wildwood38
Surf City38
Monmouth Beach34
Harvey Cedars32
Long Beach32
Seaside Park32
Sea Isle City31
Ventnor City31
Seaside Heights30
Atlantic City27
Margate City24
Cape May Point23
Stone Harbor23
Ocean Gate21
Point Pleasant Beach21
Lower Alloways Creek17
South Hackensack17
Barnegat Light16
West Cape May16
East Rutherford15
Penns Grove15
Wildwood Crest13
National Park12
Carneys Point11
Gloucester City10
Union Beach10
Sea level

The report shows nearly 20 percent of the at-risk homes in New Jersey in 2045 and 2100 were built fairly recently, after the year 2000.

Cleetus said this points up the fact that “despite this risk, we’re continuing to see ongoing development in high risk areas.”

She added in less than 30 years in New Jersey, “about $27 billion worth of residential properties are at risk of chronic inundation, and that number rises to $107 billion by the end of the century.”

Sea level

“We’ve known for a while now the New Jersey coastline is very exposed to sea level rise,” said Cleetus. “Even in the absence of major storms like Sandy, chronic flooding is already a reality in many coastal communities in New Jersey.”

She stressed this risk will only grow over time as sea levels rise.

“We need to improve education outreach. The worst thing we can do is deny the reality of the problem, and continue to develop in a risky way that puts more people and property in harms way,” she said.

“For the most part, communities seem unaware of this looming financial threat that they face.”

She also pointed out if the value of individual homes drops because of increased chronic flooding, the value of entire communities will be threatened.

She recommended communities and states invest in coastal resiliency measures and support efforts to cut carbon emissions

To get information about projected flood risks in your specific area you can visit www.ucsusa.org.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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