SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- If carbon emissions continue to increase unabated, large, populated areas of Northern California and the U.S. will be inundated from rising sea levels over the course of this century according a new report. Many areas will be impacted by the year 2050.
Researchers at Climate Central, an independent group of scientists and journalists based in New Jersey, predict a 2 to 7 feet sea level rise this century, "depending upon how much more heat-trapping pollution humanity puts into the sky."
In a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they predict that "unabated carbon emissions up to the year 2100 would commit an eventual global sea-level rise of 4.3-9.9 meters."
If their projections are true, at least 21 U.S. cities with populations of more than 100,000 are considered "endangered land," including Stockton, Sacramento, and Long Beach. San Francisco's Financial District will be under water, and areas of smaller cities like Alameda, Emeryville, Richmond, and Vallejo will be uninhabitable.
The group created a website, Surging Seas-Sea Level Rise, with interactive, high-resolution coastal flooding and sea level rise maps, and tools that show just which areas in California have the highest risk. Users can type in specific areas, and see results according to varying levels of sea-rise and varying levels of emissions control.
The project was 3 years in the making and includes a report devoted specifically to California, Oregon and Washington.
This image compares sea levels in Northern California if pollution goes unchecked on the left, and if "extreme" carbon-cutting measures are put in place on the right.
This is San Francisco's Crissy Field as we know it.
This is what Crissy Field under 12 feet of sea level rise would look like.
Now, a view of Crissy Field if there were 25 feet of sea level rise.
This is a current picture of San Francisco's AT&T Park.
Here is the artist's depiction of AT&T under 12 feet of sea level rise.
A typical sunny afternoon at the Venice Beach Boardwalk...
Under 12 feet of sea level rise, there would be no boardwalk.
This is what the Venice Beach Boardwalk would look like submerged under 25 feet of sea level rise.
The coastal areas of Northern California aren't the only places where sea level rise threatens to displace large populations, according to the project researchers. Some 600 cities across the country are facing similar scenarios, impacting more than 9 million people. But the report concludes that "rapid and deep cuts in carbon emissions could help many hundreds of coastal U.S. municipalities avoid extreme future difficulties."
The researchers warn, however, that if historic emission levels continue unchecked, "the devastating impact will endanger the continuity and legacy of hundreds more municipalities, and so long as emissions continue, the tally will continually increase."
CBSSF.com writer, producer Jan Mabry is also executive producer and host of The Bronze Report. She lives in Northern California. Follow her on Twitter @janmabr.
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