Global Issues>>Environment:>> Climate Change >> Global Warming
Rising sea levels are slated to submerge substantial parts of 1,700 US cities
By Roberto A. Ferdman - Quartz - July 30, 2013
A study released earlier this monthÂ revealed that the increase of a mere degree celsius could lead global sea levels to rise by as much as two meters. But according to a new study published in theÂ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the implications are especially grim for the US.Â At the current rate of carbon emissions, over 1,700 cities, including New York, Boston and Miami, will be âlocked inâ by greenhouse gas emissions by this centuryâs end. While the study doesnât specify when these cities would begin to fall under water, the âlocked inâ date marks a point at which cities would not be able to escape being submerged by water in the future. In other words, by 2100, scores of US cities will have sealed their fate.Sea levels, as we know, are incredibly sensitive to rises in global temperatures.Â
Even more striking: Nearly 80 cities and more than 800,000 people will have sealed their fate by 2023. Cambridge, Massachusetts, which houses both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will have done so by 2060. As will Norfolk, Virginia, home to Americaâs largest navy base.
Unfortunately, bigger cuts to carbon emissionsÂ by the US and other big polluters may not help. âEven if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, New Jersey will be under sea level,â author of the paper Benjamin StraussÂ told the Guardian.Â Already,Â half of US shorelinesÂ are vulnerable to sea level rises.
Still, curbing carbon emissions could save as many as 1,000 cities from partial submergence, the study found. Even without dramatic cuts, incremental steps to lower emissions will likely spare hundreds of cities from that fate, including mega-centers like New York.
Correction (July 30 5:28 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article said that 1,700 US cities would be partially submerged by 2100, but cities evaluated in the report would be âlocked inâ to future high water levels at an unspecified time in future.Â This article has been corrected in several places to reflect the accurate data.
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