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1 March 2010 An Estimate of the U.S. Population Living in 100-Year Coastal Flood Hazard Areas
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Abstract

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently completed a coastal demographics study of the United States and U.S. territories. As part of this study, FEMA estimated the United States population subject to the 1% annual chance (100 y) coastal flood hazard as mapped by FEMA. This determination followed a three-step process: (1) create a national digital flood hazard database by compiling the best available coastal-proximate, digital flood-hazard-area data using FEMA data sets; (2) develop a systematic method to separate coastal and riverine flood hazard areas and incorporate this boundary into the digital flood hazard database; and (3) combine the year 2000 census data with the digital flood hazard database using a geographic information system. This enabled estimates of the U.S. population subject to the 1% annual chance coastal flood. The analysis was conducted at the census block-group level, with census block-group populations (permanent residents) assumed to be uniformly distributed across each block group. The results demonstrate that approximately 3.0% of the U.S. population lives in areas subject to the 1% annual chance coastal flood hazard. It must be emphasized, however, that these numbers are based on the 1% annual chance (100 y) coastal flood. Historical coastal floods less frequent than the 1% chance annual flood have occurred in the U.S. on numerous occasions. If less-frequent coastal flood events were considered in this study, such as the 0.2% annual chance (500 y) coastal flood or, if seasonal (vacations) population were considered, then a much greater percentage of the U.S. population would be determined as subject to coastal flooding.

Mark Crowell, Kevin Coulton, Cheryl Johnson, Jonathan Westcott, Doug Bellomo, Scott Edelman, and Emily Hirsch "An Estimate of the U.S. Population Living in 100-Year Coastal Flood Hazard Areas," Journal of Coastal Research 26(2), 201-211, (1 March 2010). https://doi.org/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-09-00076.1
Received: 30 June 2009; Accepted: 1 July 2009; Published: 1 March 2010
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