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‘Overnight catastrophe:’ New climate change model shows Coachella Valley underwater as sea levels rise

There's a new warning on the growing climate change crisis: that the Coachella Valley could one day be underwater due to rising sea levels as temperatures heat up globally.

New remarkable scientific predictions from nonprofit research group Climate Central show major coastal cities largely immersed in the ocean. The base of the Statue of Liberty and the Santa Monica pier would be submerged.

"What we do over the next 10, 20, 30 years is going to set in motion what happens over the next hundred and thousand years," said Benjamin Strauss, CEO and Chief Scientist at Climate Central.

Strauss projects that if worldwide emissions aren't cut in half within the next decade, the global average temperature will warm by 3 degrees Celsius within a century.

If the earth heats up by 4 degrees Celsius, models show the Coachella Valley could flood too.

"The valley is really low – the Salton Sea is below sea level, but its protected by the mountains," Strauss said. "Problem is, if the sea level rises enough, the ocean can connect from the south... You'd be looking at overnight catastrophe because the whole thing could fill up very quickly."

24-year-old Cindy Yanez of Cathedral City is an Earth Systems Science graduate researcher at U.C. Irvine. Last year, she published a climate change study predicting big blows to local tourism due to rising temperatures.

She said extreme heat in our region is only going to get worse. "The extreme heat just in itself would cause a big stress in peoples lives and peoples jobs," Yanez said.

The experts say right now is a turning point in the growing global crisis, offering a responsibility and an opportunity to change climate change.

"What we do can affect countless generations into the future," Strauss said. "We have a change to make all of those lives better by the decisions we make right now."

The potential impacts are made more urgent with the United Nations Climate Summit happening on Oct. 31 in Glasgow, where world leaders will discuss how aggressive they plan to be with new climate policy.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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