Planning a trip to Miami or New Orleans? Better not put it off too long. However, you may have until next century, or even longer. That depends upon who you listen to.
Those coastal cities and others are predicted to disappear under rising seas – some no matter what we do about climate change.
Florida has the largest number of metropolitan centers at risk. And they represent 40 percent or more of the US population. Next in order on the most affected list are California, Louisiana and New York.
The year 2100 looms large in this scenario. Scientists believe that if we do nothing by then to cut the amount of fossil fuel we burn, seas can be expected to rise anywhere from four to 32 feet – enough to inundate coastal areas. That dire prediction comes from Ben Strauss, VP for sea level and climate impacts at Climate Central. He’s certain it will happen but can’t be sure when.
Experts predict that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their present rate, the Antarctic ice shelves may be in danger of collapse, thereby precipitating a significant sea level rise.
“Some of this could happen as early as next century,” Strauss said in an interview. “But it might also take many centuries. Just think of a pile of ice in a warm room. You know it is going to melt, but it is harder to say how quickly.”
An online tool at choices.climatecentral.org allows users to see the impacts on various US cities. “We were really trying to show what the consequences of our carbon choices are going to be,” said Strauss, who co-authored the study with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. It was edited by NASA climate scientist and author James Hansen.
Sadly, the scientists believe that Miami and New Orleans are past their tipping points and cannot be saved.
In the case of Miami, its low elevation and porous limestone foundation rule out the effectiveness of sea walls and levees. And a great deal of New Orleans is already five to ten feet below sea level. In addition, the city sits on a muddy foundation that can’t support it. So it’s already sinking – even as the level of the Gulf of Mexico is expected by experts to rise by an estimated eight to 13 feet by the year 2100.
New York City, according to a recent study, could be flooded by sea water and virtually unlivable by 2085 if we don’t take drastic action to reduce carbon emissions.
It’s still possible to save millions of people who reside in coastal areas of the US, according to findings published in the October 12 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.