Art and Climate Change: “America’s Endangered Coast”

Three years ago today Super-storm Sandy slammed the New York City tri-state area. Creating a record storm surge of 13.88 feet at the Battery in lower Manhattan and causing $70 Billion in property damages, it opened the region’s eyes to the dangers posed by rising sea levels. But, this issue is not limited to the northeast. It is a looming threat to all coastal communities in the US. In an effort to call attention to this critical situation, photographer John Ganis has created a series of images – and a soon to be published photo book – called “America’s Endangered Coast”.

Traveling from Texas to Maine, he documented sites that have been and will likely be impacted by either by storm surge flooding or tidal flooding. For each photograph he notes not only the location, but also its elevation above sea level. Of these images Ganis says, “Climate change is a fact and a predicament for mankind of great urgency that I feel compelled to address in my photographic work.”

The two main drivers of sea level rise are thermal expansion – a process in which water expands as it warms – and melting glaciers. Both are the result of rising global temperatures.

Since 1880, according to the IPCC, the average global sea level has risen about eight inches. Looking ahead, as sea levels continue to rise, future storm surges and tidal flooding events will have a higher starting point and will therefore be able to reach further inland. So, in comparison to the impacts of Sandy, a lesser storm could produce similar, if not worse, flooding in the future.

To see images from “America’s Endangered Coast”, visit:


“House Site & Shrine, Brook Ave, Union Beach NJ (El. 5 ft.) 2013” Credit: John Ganis