(Mirror Daily, United States) – A new study has revealed that millions of Americans live in cities where slowing the threat of rising sea levels is not a viable option anymore, but researchers hope these findings will serve as a wake-up call for other cities that can still save themselves by reducing carbon emissions.

Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study estimates the effect of the rising sea levels on cities across the United States provided that carbon emissions continue at the current rate or decrease.

The most concerning discovery is that 414 cities and towns have already passed the point of no return, which means that no matter what humans will do now regarding carbon emissions, more than half the city’s populated land will go underwater; it’s just a matter of time.

According to the research compiled by study author Benjamin Strauss of Climate Central, the most compromised city seems to be New Orleans, which doesn’t stand a chance even in a best-case carbon emissions scenario. Due to its low geographical position and flat terrain, 98 percent of New Orleans’ populated land is predicted to become underwater in the future.

The city’s reactions to these findings are limited: either build sufficient defenses or prepare for eventually abandoning the New Orleans to the waters. Concerned authorities could turn to building higher levees to protect the city, but Strauss doesn’t think this is the ideal solution.

He pointed to the dangers of creating a deep bowl situation, where the higher the levees, the more disastrous the results of a potential breach are; such was the case of the Hurricane Katrina, when the great mass of water built up behind the tall levee became catastrophic when it breached the defense.

Predictions for New Orleans might be even gloomier than the study’s estimations, Strauss added, as the team didn’t take into consideration the city’s current sinking situation. But not a lot further behind New Orleans is Miami – another low and flat city whose future doesn’t look too bright.

Researchers are particularly concerned about Miami because of the porous limestone that the city is built on. Strauss compared the Miami’s bedrock with “Swiss cheese,” a land that allows water to flow freely through it, which means that building levees is not an effective reaction for the cities in South Florida.

Locking in the exact time when these scenarios would play out is still a mystery. It’s just like “a pile of ice in a warm room,” Strauss said; we know the ice is surely going to melt, but it’s not as easy to estimate just how quickly.

Image Source: TTT Travel