- Parts of San Francisco could be underwater by 2100 under the most extreme projections for sea level rise.
- Research suggests that areas of San Francisco are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise due to sinking land and their location along the coast.
- If the factors contributing to climate change go unchecked, the city’s landmark towers, tech campuses, and tourist attractions could find themselves submerged.
Rising seas and sinking land spell bad news for San Francisco.
Nearly a decade ago, researchers estimated that, by the year 2100, rising sea levels would result in $US100 billion worth of property losses and 480,000 displaced people along the California coast.
These effects could be compounded in San Francisco, where the land has begun to sink due to excessive groundwater pumping.
A March 2018 study from the American Association for the Advancement of Science predicts that 48 to 166 square miles of the Bay Area could be underwater by 2100.
To find out which sites could be submerged, Business Insider turned to Climate Central’s Google Earth plug-in, which depicts San Francisco under the most extreme conditions of sea-level rise. The tool estimates what the city would look like if the conditions were to happen today, using projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).
Though sea level rise is accelerating due to climate change, NOAA’s projections for 2100 represent the worst-case-scenario for San Francisco.
Check out the before-and-after photos of landmark locations like Fisherman’s Wharf, Google’s office, and the San Francisco International Airport.
Many San Francisco tech companies are located in waterfront areas that are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise.
Companies like Square and Twitter appear to be safe, while the LinkedIn office is just shy of the predicted flood plain.
Google’s San Francisco office runs up against the San Francisco Bay, making it one of the most likely tech companies to experience flooding.
Though floods aren’t expected to reach the tops of buildings, they pose a severe threat to electrical grids and sewage pipelines.
Waterfront attractions at the Embarcadero, a popular area among tourists and locals, await a similar fate.
The city’s historic Ferry Building, which has been around since the end of the 19th century, could soon be underwater.
Coastal flooding could also damage Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Pier 39 receives around 11 million annual visitors, while Fisherman’s Wharf sees about 12 million per year.
Rising sea levels also threaten the city’s landmark towers.
The Transamerica Pyramid, once the tallest tower in San Francisco, could experience flooding by 2100.
The city’s controversial Millennium Tower is included in the flood plain, along with the Salesforce Tower, which is still under construction in this Google Earth photo.
The Millennium Tower already faces structural issues. The tower has sunk 17 inches and tilted 14 inches in the last decade.
By far one of the most devastating consequences of extreme flooding would be damage to the San Francisco International Airport.
The airport serves nearly 56 million passengers a year and employs around 43,000 people. If the area were to be hit by floods, it could have severe economic consequences both inside and outside the Bay Area.
If the factors that contribute to climate change go unchecked, the airport could topple to rising sea levels by the turn of the next century.
Areas outside the city are vulnerable as well.
By 2100, the entire Facebook campus in Menlo Park could be submerged in water.
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