Swimming with the fishes

by Chris Bertram on May 25, 2006

Blogger Alex Tingle has made enterprising use of Google Maps by designing an overlay that shows the effects of the sea level rising . You can choose your level (up to 14m) and the map will show if a given bit of land would be underwater, and you can toggle between a map view (with placenames) and a satellite view, and you can zoom in and out. Of course, there are lots of caveats since he’s ignored tides and flood defences, the data may be less that 100% accurate, etc. Still, it’s an entertaining and instructive bit of coding. I’m happy to report that my own house will remain dry (though I’ll be dead long before we get to 14m, anyway).

{ 15 comments }

1

y81 05.25.06 at 12:45 pm

The map is cool, but aren’t there all sorts of hydrological issues beyond what the mapmaker discusses that would affect the outcome, and that aren’t even well-understood enough to model? Our summer house (like many in the Northeast) is on a barrier beach; it was my understanding that the process of barrier beach formation is not well enough understood for anyone to be sure what effect a rise in sea levels will have. (I.e., will the barrier beaches be built up with additional sand, of which there is plenty in the ocean, or will they be submerged, or what.) In this respect, a gradual rise in sea levels would be very different from a storm surge.

2

mpowell 05.25.06 at 1:42 pm

Its kind of funny to look at the resulting coastline, b/c obviously that’s not what coastlines look like and its because of the issues y81 raises. But its still a fun little tool to play with. I think my parent’s house in southern CA will be fine for their lifetime, at least.

3

jet 05.25.06 at 1:42 pm

I would question the usefullness of this map given that 80cm rise in sea level is the most probable worst case scenario for the next 100 years. This number is interesting because seasonal river runoff can raise local sea levels by 100 cm, high winds can raise local sea levels by 500 cm, and a simple el Nino year can raise sea level by 60 cm.

So even the worst case scenario is not cause for panic.

4

etat 05.25.06 at 3:21 pm

He’s included the Caspian Sea in the scheme. It increases quite substantially into Kazakhstan. Neat trick. I wonder how the water gets there.

I’d also like to know if the NASA data is in an easy-to use format. Given that the Ordnance Survey extort money from people wanting to know UK topography, it would be nice to have an alternative.

5

engels 05.25.06 at 3:45 pm

Look on the bright side. Compared to the soon-to-be-aquatic UWE you’re laughing. Pity about the city centre. But for going out there’ll always be Thekla.

Oh and Jet is right, as usual, because who in their right mind could care what will happen after 100 years?

6

lemuel pitkin 05.25.06 at 5:21 pm

University of Arizona geosciences department has a similar site here.

Results look broadly similar, at first glance.

7

Ray 05.26.06 at 2:47 am

“This number is interesting because seasonal river runoff can raise local sea levels by 100 cm, high winds can raise local sea levels by 500 cm, and a simple el Nino year can raise sea level by 60 cm.”

and since all of these things are being phased out by presidential decree, starting July 15th, there’s no need to think about what might happen if you combined them with a rise in the baseline level.

8

albert 05.26.06 at 7:29 am

>>So even the worst case scenario is not cause for panic.

Of course, you’re not Bangladeshi, Tuvaluan, (etc.) are you?

9

linnen 05.26.06 at 7:53 am

At 14 meters, the White House will be beach-front property.

10

dearieme 05.26.06 at 8:48 am

Why doesn’t it show what happens when the sea-level next falls?

11

jet 05.26.06 at 1:39 pm

Albert,
Come now, I thought the meme that Tavalu was sinking had been thoroughly debunked. Perhaps next you’ll tell me more people voted for American Idol than voted for President?

12

goatchowder 05.27.06 at 2:08 am

Oh, here comes the flood.

We’ll say goodbye

to flesh and blood!

If again, the seas are silent

and any still alive,

it’ll be those who gave their island to survive.

Drink up, dreamers, you’re running dry.

(Sorry, Peter Gabriel)

13

trialsanderrors 05.27.06 at 4:59 am

Maldives: highest point = 2.3 m (7½ ft) above sea level.

14

trialsanderrors 05.27.06 at 4:59 am

15

rollo 05.27.06 at 7:21 pm

I think my parent’s house in southern CA will be fine for their lifetime
-
So even the worst case scenario is not cause for panic
-
Technology will save us
-
And bring us all ponies we can ride

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