As the planet warms, the sea rises. Coastlines flood … How will we face the danger of rising seas?

As the planet warms, the sea rises. Coastlines flood. What will we protect? What will we abandon? How will we face the danger of rising seas?

By Tim Folger
Photographs by George Steinmetz

Picture of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy

Picture of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy

By the time Hurricane Sandy veered toward the Northeast coast of the United States last October 29, it had mauled several countries in the Caribbean and left dozens dead. Faced with the largest storm ever spawned over the Atlantic, New York and other cities ordered mandatory evacuations of low-lying areas. Not everyone complied. Those who chose to ride out Sandy got a preview of the future, in which a warmer world will lead to inexorably rising seas.

Brandon d’Leo, a 43-year-old sculptor and surfer, lives on the Rockaway Peninsula, a narrow, densely populated, 11-mile-long sandy strip that juts from the western end of Long Island. Like many of his neighbors, d’Leo had remained at home through Hurricane Irene the year before. “When they told us the tidal surge from this storm would be worse, I wasn’t afraid,” he says. That would soon change.

For more on this story, visit: Rising Seas | National Geographic Magazine.

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