Warning: Real Estate Development in Flood Zones Is Surging in Some States

New Jersey Homes sit at the end of a bridge flooded by Hurricane Sandy.
New Jersey Homes sit at the end of a bridge flooded by Hurricane Sandy.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Home buyers in search of a forever house should reconsider looking on the coast. According to a study from Climate Central and Zillow, new houses are continuing to pop up in places that are most vulnerable to rising sea levels, with construction in risk zones outpacing that in safer areas in some states.

New Jersey, a state that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, is the worst offender when it comes to building homes in low-lying flood zones. Between 2010 and 2016, 2982 new houses totaling $2.6 billion in real estate prices were built in risk zones in the state. Behind New Jersey, North Carolina, Florida, and Texas are the states with the most new houses vulnerable to rising ocean levels driven by climate change.

Even in a best case scenario, the future of these properties looks grim. The study finds that even if the world puts moderate restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, roughly 10,000 homes built after 2009 will be at risk of at least yearly flooding by 2050. The numbers are about three times higher by 2100 and five times higher if carbon emissions aren't reined in at all.

The data is even more sobering when houses built prior to this decade are taken into account. If pollution goes unchecked for the next 80 years, 2.5 million built before today, amounting to $1.33 trillion, will be at risk of at least one flood per year.

Seaside homes aren't the only places facing the rising threat of climate change. Many of the world's airports and UNESCO World Heritage sites are also at increased risk of flooding as sea levels rise.

To see how quickly real estate is being developed in high-risk areas in year state, check out the interactive map below.

[h/t IFL Science]

These Nature Posters Show the Most Endangered Animal in Each State

NetCredit
NetCredit

The U.S. has more than 1300 endangered or threatened species, from South Dakota's black-footed ferret to Colorado's Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly to the blue whales that live off the coast of Alaska. These wild animals could disappear if prompt wildlife conservation measures aren't taken, and people are largely to blame. Globally, human activities are the direct cause of 99 percent of threatened animal classifications, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Some of these animals may even be in your backyard. A research team commissioned by NetCredit used data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to highlight the most endangered animal in each state. For this project, "most endangered" refers to the animals that face the greatest risk of extinction. An art director and designer then teamed up to create gorgeous illustrations of each animal.

Since some regions are home to many of the same creatures, a different animal was selected from the shortlist of endangered species in cases where there were duplicates from one state to the next. The goal was to cast light on as many threatened species as possible, including the ones that rarely make headlines.

"We hope this will start a conversation around the fact that it's not just the iconic species we see on nature documentaries that we're at risk of losing forever," the research team said in a statement.

Take the black-footed ferret, for instance. It's the only ferret that's native to North America, but its ranks have dwindled as its main food source—prairie dogs—becomes harder to find. Prairie dog eradication programs and loss of the ferret's habitat (due to farming) are some of the factors to blame. A ferret breeding colony was established in the past, but only 200 to 300 of the animals still remain, rendering them critically endangered.

To learn more about some of America's most at-risk species, check out the posters below and visit NetCredit's website for the full report.

California's Point Arena mountain beaver
NetCredit

Alaska's blue whale
NetCredit

South Carolina's frosted flatwoods salamander
NetCredit

Minnesota's rusty patched bumble bee
NetCredit

New York's Eastern massasauga snake
NetCredit

West Virginia's Virginia big-eared bat
NetCredit

Florida's red wolf
NetCredit

The poster of endangered wildlife in all 50 states
NetCredit

The West Coast Is Preparing for Another Super Bloom

iStock.com/Ron_Thomas
iStock.com/Ron_Thomas

In spring of 2017, people flocked to Southern California's deserts to see fields of wildflowers brightening the normally sparse terrain. That level of vegetation, also known as a super bloom, is an event that only occurs after winters of heavier-than-average precipitation. Now just two years later, the rare sight is about to return to California's Anza-Borrego desert, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The 2018/2019 winter season was an unusually wet one for California. Between October 1 and the beginning of February, Downtown Los Angeles saw 12.91 inches of rain, which is approximately 167 percent more than the seasonal average. All that precipitation will produce an explosion of color when spring arrives in Anza-Borrego desert three hours southeast of Los Angeles. Experts predict the 2019 super bloom could start as early as late February and last through March.

If the last super bloom is any indication, this year's event will attract crowds of sight-seers. Anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 people visited the desert to look at and snap pictures of the flowers in 2017. Many local communities were overwhelmed by the influx of tourists, but this time around they know what to expect. Portable toilets will be set up around popular sites, and thousands of maps of showing where the flower fields, gas stations, and toilets are located are ready to be passed out to drivers.

Visitors also have a few things to learn from the past super bloom. Two years ago, foot traffic in places like the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve was so heavy that trails had to be closed down to protect delicate flowers from selfie-taking tourists.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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