- Sea levels are rising at accelerating rates.
- Research group Climate Central created illustrations to show what could become of major US cities, should the worst climate-change predictions come true.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The world’s sea levels are rising at faster and faster rates as waters warm and ice sheets melt.
Researchers led by Steve Nerem, a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, looked at satellite data dating back to 1993 to track sea-level rise.
Their findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal in 2018, show that sea levels aren’t just rising. The rate has been accelerating over the past 25 years.
Even small increases can have huge consequences, experts on climate say. If the worst climate-change predictions come true, coastal US cities from New York to New Orleans will be devastated by flooding and greater exposure to storm surges by 2100.
The research group Climate Central has created a plug-in for Google Earth to illustrate how catastrophic an unlikely, “extreme” sea-level-rise scenario would be if the flooding happened today, based on 2017 projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
You can install the plug-in and see what might become of major US cities.
In a worst-case scenario, flooding caused by polar melting and ice-sheet collapses could cause a sea-level rise of 10 to 12 feet by 2100, NOAA reported in 2017.
Here’s Washington, DC, today, with the Potomac River running through it.
And here’s what the capital might look like in 2100, as seen on Climate Central’s plug-in for Google Earth. Rising sea levels could cause the river to overflow.
President Donald Trump drew modest crowds at his inauguration in January 2017 along the National Mall, which sits at the foot of the US Capitol building.
Future inaugurations wouldn’t be quite the same.
Trump stood outside the White House in 2017 and announced plans to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, a pact to fight climate change.
Source: Business Insider
In 2100, the White House’s Rose Garden could have an oceanfront view.
New York City is situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbours.
The Hudson River could flood the city’s perimeter and low-lying areas like the West Village by 2100.
The Financial District contains offices for many major financial institutions, including the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Extreme sea-level rise could devastate Wall Street. Battery Park would be a water park.
San Francisco is home to a huge concentration of wealth and power in the technology world.
It’s also a peninsula prone to flooding.
This swath of downtown San Francisco includes offices for LinkedIn, Business Insider, and Salesforce.
They’d be too close to the waterfront to avoid flooding.
Farther south in Silicon Valley, Facebook’s campus dazzles in Menlo Park.
As if the social network didn’t have enough problems, its headquarters could someday be underwater.
Apple’s new campus (the big ring) in Cupertino, California, would stay high and dry.
San Francisco International Airport serves more than 50 million travellers every year.
In 2100, people might want to fly into Las Vegas.
Charleston, South Carolina, already has a flooding problem. It’s flat and has a low elevation, making it vulnerable to extreme flooding and storm surges.
People might someday need a boat to reach the city’s centre.
Shopping at the Charleston City Market is a must for tourists visiting the area.
But the long row of red-roofed buildings could be submerged by 2100.
Los Angeles, which has the third-highest elevation among major US cities, might fare better.
Source: US Geological Survey
The projections show the Pacific Ocean climbing up the boardwalk, but that’s about it.
New Orleans is no stranger to the problems that come with sea-level rise.
By 2100, the Big Easy could disappear underwater. An estimated 500,000 people could have to leave the area in the next century to stay aboveground.
After flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina destroyed numerous homes in the New Orleans area in 2005, tens of thousands of people sought refuge at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
But the arena might not survive extreme sea-level rise.
Boston is the only state capital in the continental US that borders an ocean. Extreme sea-level rise could cause the Charles River to spill onto city streets.
Here’s what Boston could look like in 2100. Massachusetts General Hospital might have to be abandoned, while the Public Garden would be soaked.
Many of the country’s top universities sit along Boston’s Charles River.
The education world could say goodbye to Harvard Business School, Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northeastern University.
Trump has spent a decent part of his presidency in Palm Beach, Florida.
Source: Business Insider
He owns the Mar-a-Lago luxury resort and club, better known as the Winter White House.
If sea levels rose by as much as 12 feet, Mar-a-Lago would not fare well.
But Trump will be out of office by the time anything like that could happen.
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