Get access

Prediction and Impact of Sea Level Rise on Properties and Infrastructure of Washington, DC


Bilal M. Ayyub, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Center for Technology & Systems Management, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA;


The city of Washington, District of Columbia (DC) will face flooding, and eventual geographic changes, in both the short- and long-term future because of sea level rise (SLR) brought on by climate change, including global warming. To fully assess the potential damage, a linear model was developed to predict SLR in Washington, DC, and its results compared to other nonlinear model results. Using geographic information systems (GIS) and graphical visualization, analytical models were created for the city and its underlying infrastructure. Values of SLR used in the assessments were 0.1 m for the year 2043 and 0.4 m for the year 2150 to model short-term SLR; 1.0 m, 2.5 m, and 5.0 m were used for long-term SLR. All necessary data layers were obtained from free data banks from the U.S. Geological Survey and Washington, DC government websites. Using GIS software, inventories of the possibly affected infrastructure were made at different SLR. Results of the analysis show that low SLR would lead to a minimal loss of city area. Damages to the local properties, however, are estimated at an assessment value of at least US$2 billion based on only the direct losses of properties listed in real estate databases, without accounting for infrastructure damages that include military installations, residential areas, governmental property, and cultural institutions. The projected value of lost property is in excess of US$24.6 billion at 5.0 m SLR.