A study that found that millions of Americans are at risk of losing their homes due to global pollution by 2100 created a map of the United States to show which cities are at most risk of being wiped out by elevated sea levels.
According to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a portion of land in the U.S. where around 20 to 30 million people reside will be submerged in the future if sea levels continue to elevate at the same rate it is going right now. Among the coastal cities scientists predict will be affected are New York, Miami, and New Orleans.
To emphasize the importance of their findings, the researchers created a map wherein Americans can type their postal code to check if their area will end up below sea level by 2100. The map was created as a graphic representation of how climate change could destroy coastal cities over time.
"For unabated climate change, we find that land that is home to more than 20 million people is implicated and is widely disturbed among different states and coasts," said Benjamin Strauss of Princeton University and lead author of the study.
Global warming has long been considered an urgent problem due to greenhouse gas emissions that cause temperature spikes and climate changes.
Aside from climate change, a possible, dangerous threat to coastal cities is the destabilization of a West Antarctica ice sheet. Scientists fear that the destabilization which will contribute hugely to the sea level elevation is inevitable and irreversible.
Researchers warn that if global warming temperatures remain above two degrees Celsius, global sea levels may rise by 14 to 32 feet by 2100.
"If we don't cut emissions," said Strauss,"We're talking about losing American land home to more people that live in any state, except for California and Texas. Home to more people than the state of Florida and New York."
The study does not give an exact measure of how fast the sea level will rise. Most estimate that it will go up by 2.3 meters or 7.55 feet a year, but findings also suggest that the elevation can go much faster. Studies on further emissions will be able to more specifically determine which cities are at risk for flooding and will have to be evacuated in the future.
On a positive note, the researchers said that cutting down emission rates can have a huge impact on preventing the flood.
Countries around the world, including the U.S., have already pledged their support in cutting down emissions. However, there still remain skeptics that human-induced climate change and the whole scenario is real.
"We can act ... or we can delay and leave a legacy of irreversible rising seas that threaten to destroy ... our nation," Strauss said.
Photo: David Shankbone | Flickr