Sea level rise won’t effect Morris County directly.

Populations moving away from the coasts however, will bring both opportunity and resource stress.

Climate scientists have given earthlings twelve (12) years to get ready for the dramatic effects of climate change.  Let’s take a look at what that could mean, if true.   Here’s where we start:

Figure 1.  The huge spike in population density is Guttenberg, Union City, West New York (NJ) and Hoboken. They cluster in Bergen County below the George Washington Bridge to NY City.

Morris County lies between the heavily urban areas of Northern NJ and more rural areas, west, south and north of us.  See the Figure 1.   NJ’s highest population spikes cluster around along train lines into Manhattan and the George Washington Bridge (GWB) crossing into the Bronx.  The densest municipalities are in Bergen and Hudson Counties.

The Port of New York and New Jersey is the busiest container port on the East Coast of the United States;  it is where containerization first began.  Newark Airport is located next to Port Newark.  Ironically, land used for the transportation sector makes Essex County, and Newark in particular, seem less dense that one would guess.

Where there are container ships, there is sea water ….. and the threat of sea level rise.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a tool that models the effects of sea level rise.  Let’s start by looking at Newark.  Figure 2 shows the situation today – no flooding, as long as the low lying areas (green) can drain well.  Figure 3 shows a sea-level rise of 5 ft.  While it doesn’t seem like too much trouble – water isn’t a constant problem.  However, the global air-traffic system counts on useable runways most of the time.  Port Newark may or may not be useable.  By 7-ft, (Figure 4) the situation is dire.  Runways are completely flooded.

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Figure 3. Sea-level rise of 5 ft at Newark Airport

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Figure 4.  Newark airport at 7-ft rise in sea-level. Green indicates low lying areas. The lighter the blue the shallower the water.

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Figure 5. NJ suffers more than Manhattan at a 10-ft sea level rise.

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Putting these Figures 1 and 4 together, you can see that a great number of people are going to need to move elsewhere.  See Figure 6.

Figure 6. Looking at NJ from the North. Morris County is circled in ivory. Areas of NJ with high impact from sea-level rise are indicated in red.

When these educated populations start to move, Morris County can choose to attract them if we set up the tools now.