Rising sea levels may not seem that big of a deal right now. However, a new study suggests that our carbon emissions now are already locking in the watery fate of 1,400 US cities, including Miami, Florida.
The study adds that, unless there are massive cuts in the production of greenhouse gases, the world has already doomed the fate of cities like Virginia Beach, Jacksonville, and Hoboken.
USA Today reports that our prior carbon emissions have already guaranteed four feet of future sea level rise. The change will submerge parts of 316 cities.
However, the timing of those cities’ watery fates are unknown and could take hundreds of years. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds that at least 1,100 other cities will be doomed to the sea by the year 2100 should global warming continue at its current rate.
Anders Levermann and an international team of scientists already discovered that the global average sea level will rise by about 4.2 feet in the long run for every degree of Fahrenheit of global warming from carbon pollution.
Using these figures, the new paper, written by Ben Strauss, suggests that the sea level rise commitment is growing at one foot per decade. The Huffington Post notes that Strauss added, “It’s like this invisible threat.”
He asserts in the paper that the levels are much higher than what is predicted in this century, because climate change will multiply its impact over hundreds of years.
The study adds that there is a common misconception among advocates to halt global warming. While lowering our carbon emissions will help, the problem of sea levels rising won’t go away. While Peter Ruggiero, a coastal engineering scientists with Oregon State University, commented that the study is “useful,” he added a word of caution as well.
Ruggiero explained that there are “uncertainties” in predicting so far into the future, because estimates assume no change in coastal population or land features. There is also no wiggle room for potential engineering solutions to rising sea levels. While the study certainly brings up valid points, only time will tell what our impact on sea levels and the fate of coastal cities will be.
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