It's already too late to cut greenhouse-gas emissions enough to prevent 316 American cities from eventually being partially submerged by rising seas, and the number whose fate is being "locked in" is constantly rising, a chilling new study finds. Researchers—who warn that emissions already released will cause the seas to keep rising for a long time—predict that if global warming keeps up its pace through 2100, the number of towns and cities locked in to a watery fate will swell to some 1,400, USA Today reports.
Cities and towns in Florida are most at risk, with Miami beyond saving by 2041 if current emission levels continue. Louisiana, New Jersey, and North Carolina each have 100 cities that could be doomed. The Guardian explains that those 1,400 locations represent ones where 50% of the current population "lives below the locked-in future high-tide level." The dates given in the study detail when the cities would be past the "point of no return," not actually underwater, notes the Guardian. And some big-name locations are already there. "Even if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, NJ, will be under sea level," study author Benjamin Strauss, a scientist at Climate Central, tells the Guardian. Averting the sea-level rise will require emission cuts much deeper than anything politicians are currently considering, he says. (Read more sea levels stories.)