Climate change impacts can be especially large in cities1, 2. Several large cities are taking climate change into account in long-term strategies3, 4, for which it is important to have information on the costs and benefits of adaptation5. Studies on climate change impacts in cities mostly focus on a limited set of countries and risks, for example sea-level rise, health and water resources6. Most of these studies are qualitative, except for the costs of sea-level rise in cities7, 8.

Research reveals that liberals and conservatives in the United States diverge about their beliefs regarding climate change. We show empirically that political affiliation also matters with respect to climate related risks such as flooding from hurricanes. Our study is based on a survey conducted 6 months after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 of over 1,000 residents in flood-prone areas in New York City. Democrats’ perception of their probability of suffering flood damage is significantly higher than Republicans’ and they are also more likely to invest in individual flood protection measures.

Writing in Nature Climate Change, Lin and colleagues show that the combined effect of storm climatology and sea-level rise will greatly shorten surge-flooding return periods. Future climate effects may cause the present-day 100-yr and 500-yr surge flooding in New York City (NYC) to occur every 3–20 yrs and every 25–240 yrs, respectively. (Correspondence)