In January, Amazon announced the top 20 contenders for its $5 billion second headquarters, HQ2. Across North America, more than 200 cities, states, and regions submitted bids for the campus, which is expected to bring 50,000 jobs.
Though not every proposal is fully public, none of the finalist cities — nor Amazon in its RFP — have openly mentioned the ramifications of climate change on HQ2. Climate change-linked events like sea-level rise, hurricanes, and heat waves could affect HQ2’s employees and infrastructure in coming years. Many of the proposed sites are also along waterfronts, which would put HQ2 more at risk of flood damage.
A new analysis from mapping-software company Esri and the IT firm Michael Baker International explores how sea-level rise could threaten each of the HQ2 finalist metro areas. Their study and interactive map suggest that increasing water levels will reshape US coasts by the end of the century.
There are some caveats to the analysis. Since the researchers used US government data, they excluded Toronto, Canada, a finalist city that is already worried about its floodplain. (Toronto Islands saw millions of dollars-worth of flood damage in 2017, when 40% of the Toronto Island Park went underwater due to rising water levels.) The researchers also did not consider other processes that induce flooding, like erosion, subsidence, and construction.
Of the 20 finalists, six US locations risk inundation if water levels rise just three feet — a modest projection of sea-level rise over the next 80 years. The National Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicts the country could see up to eight feet of mean sea-level rise by 2100. Landlocked cities in the running for HQ2, like Denver, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh, will likely see much less than that.
In the maps below, the dark blue signifies a high chance of inundation if water levels increase at least three feet, while light blue represents a lower chance. Areas that are shaded green are low-lying, meaning they could flood to some degree.
Take a look below.
South Florida reportedly submitted eight sites to Amazon for HQ2 consideration. These include five in Miami-Dade County, two in Broward County, and one in Palm Beach County, according to The Miami Herald.
Miami (and South Florida in general) is also one of the areas most threatened by sea-level rise in the nation. By 2100, a combination of polar melting, carbon emissions, and ice-sheet collapses could cause chronic flooding to overwhelm large swaths of Miami.
The city is offering up a number of sites to Amazon, including Buzzard Point, The Yards, and Poplar Point — all located on the Anacostia River waterfront, which is at risk from sea-level rise.
Philadelphia officials pitched three unfinished developments — Schuylkill Yards, uCity Square, and Navy Yard — that span an estimated 28 million square feet, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
- Bill Gates reads 50 books a year and says this is his all-time favorite — here are his top highlights
- A robot can build this $10,000 house within 12 hours — take a look inside
- Hospital rooms in 9 countries around the world reveal the global disparity in healthcare