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Study: Rising Sea Levels Threaten 1,700 Cities, Towns

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(photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(CBS Seattle) –  A surprising new study finds that more than 1,700 cities and towns in America are in danger of being flooded or partially flooded by rising sea levels in the next 100 years; a number much higher than previously thought. Several dozen municipalities in Washington, home to more than 124,000 people, are part of that list.

If sea levels rise four feet, portions of more than 316 American cities and towns will be submerged, including Boston, New York and Miami. According to analysis of the study by The Guardian, if global warming continues at its current rate, another 1,400 cities including Sacramento, California and Norfolk, Virginia will be considered “under threat,” meaning that even though they sit farther inland they will at some point in the future be affected by the rising tide.

In Washington, 42 cities and towns would be considered threatened by 2100, including Aberdeen, Fife, Hoquiam, Longview and Ocean Shores and affecting an estimated 124,527 people. By the 2060s, The Guardian reports, about half of Cambridge, Massachusetts, half of Palm Beach, Florida and several coastal Texas cities would also be vulnerable. The study specifies that the dates are more a “point of no return” for the cities, not a date when they can expect to be underwater.

The timing for all this isn’t exact, according to the study’s author Benjamin Strauss and dramatic cuts in emissions could save about 1,000 of the cities on the doomed list. However, Strauss says the cuts would have to be even more drastic than the current cuts agreed to by the Obama administration and other world leaders.

Check out which areas in Washington will be effected by clicking on the interactive map, from Climate Central.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Guardian contributed to this report.)

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