(NEXSTAR) — Residents of the northeastern U.S. saw firsthand this summer the devastation flooding can cause in a community. Unfortunately, scientists predict flooding will only become more common as the years go on.
A map created by Climate Central, an organization of scientists and journalists focused on studying the impacts of climate change, shows what the future may hold for coastal communities as sea level rises. The first map sets the projections to include sea level rise and typical annual flooding (weather that can be expected every year). The map includes what would happen with “unchecked pollution” between now and 2050.
That setting most closely matches the current path we’re on, Climate Central said. For luck, the bar is set to “medium,” which reflects the middle range of possibilities predicted by scientists.
Explore the interactive map to zoom in on impacts around the country. You can search your city in the top toolbar. You can also tap or click the gear icon near the top right to adjust the projection type, from best-case scenarios to worst-case scenarios.
What if we don’t get so lucky? The next map includes a worst-case scenario of sorts: unchecked pollution, bad luck, plus a historically bad flood year. This scenario puts several more regions underwater. It shows where water would rise and pool in a major flood condition, such as the disastrous recent flooding in the Northeast.
While touring damage, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that Vermont endured two storms that would be called “once-in-a-century” events in the span of just 12 years. “We can’t go into the future requiring communities to put everything back exactly the way it was if a 100-year flood is about to become an annual event,” he said.
As the climate continues to warm, scientists predict flooding will become more common around the world. That’s because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, which results in storms dumping more precipitation that can have deadly outcomes.
For every 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) the atmosphere warms, it holds approximately 7% more moisture. According to NASA, the average global temperature has increased by at least 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.