39 N.J. towns most at risk to rising seas

Atlantic City today, shown at left, shows no flooding at high tide. But a four-foot rise in sea level, which some scientists say is already inevitable, would mean water in the streets for many sections of the city, indicated by blue shading at right. Similar maps for other Shore towns follow. (ClimateCentral.org)

It's already too late to stop sea levels from eventually rising about four feet, according to Climate Central, an independent climate research group based in Princeton.

The timeline is uncertain, but it could happen within the lifetime of a person born today.

For coastal towns all around the country, that's a grim prognosis.

Lists of the most-vulnerable places can be generated using an interactive tool, "Cities Below Future Seas," created by Climate Central.

Here's are two lists for New Jersey, followed by an explanation of how they were generated. Note that not all these places are at the Shore.

25 N.J. Towns Most Doomed to Flood at High Tide

These towns, as of 2012, became "locked-in" to eventually see a sea level rise of 4 feet, 3 inches, enough for high tide to flood at least 50 percent of populated areas, according to Climate Central.

Atlantic City, Beach Haven, Brigantine, Diamond Beach, Dover Beaches North, Dover Beaches South, Forked River, Hancocks Bridge, Keansburg, Lavallette, Little Ferry, Mantoloking, Margate City, Moonachie, North Beach Haven, North Wildwood, Ocean Gate, Seaside Park, Strathmere,  Union BeachVentnor CityWaretown, West Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest.

Click on any town or city for more information.

14 More N.J. Towns Doomed to Flood at High Tide

These towns were locked-in as of 2012 to eventually be at least 25 percent flooded at high tide, but less than 50 percent.

Barnegat Light, Bay Head, Cape May, Gibbstown, Hoboken, Longport, Mystic Island, Pennsville, Point Pleasant Beach, Sea Isle City, Seaside Heights, Secaucus, Stone Harbor.

Click on any town or city for more information.

NOTES: At first blush, the "Cities Below Future Seas" tool is confusing, because it's easy to look at a year and assume that's when the listed towns will be flooded. Not so, thank goodness. That's the "Locked-in Year," or a kind of point of no return, for an inevitable level of flooding (shown at the lower left of the generated graphic) expected to happen decades or even more than a century in the future.

By choosing New Jersey from the map and "2012" as the locked-in year, we generated the lists above, varying the setting for "How Much Below?" to 50 percent for the top list, 25 percent for the lower one.

See more Philly Lists. Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.