Climate: U.S. Population in the Coastal Floodplain

Climate change poses significant risks to our nation, particularly to coastal areas prone to flooding. Assessing the growing population within the coastal floodplain provides us a better understanding of who is at risk to coastal inundation from storm surge and long-term sea level rise.

16.4 million

Approximate population residing in the coastal floodplain in 2010. This is 5% of the U.S. population.

Source: NOAA, 2012

292

Persons per square mile residing within the coastal floodplain (excluding Alaska).

Source: NOAA, 2012

12%
 

Percent of the population residing in the coastal floodplain that is below the poverty level (excluding U.S. Territories).

Source: NOAA, 2012

23%

Percent of the population residing in the coastal floodplain that is under 5 and 65 and over (excluding U.S. Territories).

Source: NOAA, 2012

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Source: NOAA, 2012 Note: Interactive map and statistics include U.S. Territories unless otherwise noted.

About this Topic

In this topic, data about population in the coastal floodplain are presented for the time period 1970 to 2010. The population data for this topic were obtained from the Spatial Trends in Coastal Socioeconomics (STICS) database. The data show that there were 16.4 million people residing in the coastal floodplain in 2010 (5 percent of the U.S. population), or about 292 people per square mile (excluding Alaska). Data are also presented on populations at potentially elevated risk, which show that for population inside the coastal floodplain, 23 percent are under the age of 5 and age 65 or older and 12 percent are below the poverty line. Also, a Management Success story is presented on Coastal Smart Growth and a Case Study is presented on What is Your County’s Flood Exposure.