The oceans are rising faster than at any point in the past 28 centuries, and human emissions of greenhouse gases are primarily responsible, scientists reported Monday. They added that the flooding that is starting to make life miserable in many coastal towns — like Miami Beach, Florida; Norfolk, Virginia; and Charleston, South Carolina — was largely a consequence of those emissions, and that it is likely to grow worse in coming years.

The scientists confirmed previous estimates, but with a larger data set, that if global emissions continue at a high rate over the next few decades, the ocean could rise as much as 3 or 4 feet by 2100, as ocean water expands and the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica begin to collapse. Experts say the situation will grow far worse in the 22nd century and beyond, likely requiring the abandonment of many of the world’s coastal cities.

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