What America Will Look Like Under 25 Feet Of Sea Water

Jefferson 25 feetJefferson Memorial under 25 feet of water.

If climate models are correct, then Hurricane Sandy, and the flooding it brought, gave us a gentle preview of the not-so-distant future.

A recent NASA study found that between 1992 and 2012, global sea levels rose, on average, a little more than one inch per year. That’s much faster than climatologists had expected.

The trend is not reversing.

Sea levels rise because of melting glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica as a result of warming temperatures. The ocean also expands as it warms.

Rising sea levels make coastal areas, particularly those with dense populations, much more vulnerable to heavy flooding.

The day when continents are overtaken by seawater may seem long-off, though the threat is very real. 

Nickolay Lamm, from StorageFront.com, wants the world to know just how real.

The artist and researcher created sea level rise maps depicting what major U.S. monuments will look like over the next century if we continue on a business-as-usual track.

You may have have seen Lamm’s work featured on Business Insider before. He recently illustrated how to make Google Glass look fashionable and what the child of Prince William and Princess Catherine will look like all grown up.

For his sea level project, Lamm collaborated with Remik Ziemlinski, the same person who did research and created sea level maps for “The New York Times.”

Real-life scenes

Each hypothetical scene, which ranges from the Statue of Liberty to the Washington Monument, depicts four levels of flooding: 0 feet (today); 5 feet (which is possible in about 100 to 300 years); 12 feet (which is possible by about 2300); and 25 feet (which is possible in the coming centuries).

“I want people to look at these images and understand that the places they value most may very well be lost to future generations if climate change isn’t a bigger priority on our minds,” Lamm told Business Insider. “These illustrations are not based off wild Hollywood scenarios, but sea level rise maps from Climate Central.”

An artist at work

Each scene took anywhere from 5 to 15 hours to create, said Lamm. First, Lamm had to find a stock photo which, according to the sea level rise maps generated by Ziemlinski, would undergo extreme flooding in the future. Then, he used Google Earth to figure out exactly where the photo was taken in order to be able to label the streets, roads, and pathways visible in the photo.

Using the sea level rise maps, Lamm estimated where the flooding would be in the stock photo.

He used topography maps to determine the correct depth of the flooding in each scene. All of this was drawn in by hand, before he illustrated it in Photoshop.

In the following slideshow, each sea level rise map precedes the “real world view.” A white triangle in the maps represents where where the “camera” is positioned in the illustrations. The blue shading represents the amount of sea level rise. After these maps are shown, we see what this camera is viewing in real life.

For Lamm, these haunting images are more than just a fun project. “We are trying to show that ‘Space is Limited,’ he said. “Not just for our personal belongings, but for the places in which we live.”

Statue of Liberty Map — 0 feet

Statue of Liberty — 0 feet

Statue of Liberty Map — 5 feet

Statue of Liberty — 5 feet

Statue of Liberty Map — 12 feet

Statue of Liberty — 12 feet

Statue of Liberty Map — 25 feet

Statue of Liberty — 25 feet

Back Bay Map — 0 feet

Back Bay — 0 feet

Back Bay Map — 5 feet

Back Bay— 5 Feet

Back Bay Map — 12 feet

Back Bay — 12 Feet

Back Bay Map — 25 feet

Back Bay — 25 feet

Boston Harbor Map — 0 feet

Boston Harbor — 0 feet

Boston Harbor Map — 5 feet

Boston Harbor — 5 feet

Boston Harbor Map — 12 feet

Boston Harbor — 12 feet

Boston Harbor Map — 25 feet

Boston Harbor — 25 feet

Harvard Campus Map — 0 feet

Harvard Campus — 0 feet

Harvard Campus Map — 5 feet

Harvard Campus — 5 feet

Harvard Campus Map — 12 feet

Harvard Campus — 12 Feet

Harvard Campus — Map 25 feet

Harvard Campus — 25 feet

Jefferson Memorial Map — 0 feet

Jefferson Memorial — 0 feet

Jefferson Memorial Map — 5 feet

Jefferson Memorial — 5 feet

Jefferson Memorial Map — 12 feet

Jefferson Memorial — 12 feet

Jefferson Memorial Map — 25 feet

Jefferson Memorial — 25 feet

South Beach Map — 0 feet

Miami — 0 feet

South Beach, Miami Map — 5 feet

South Beach, Miami 5 — feet

South Beach, Miami Map —12 feet

South Beach, Miami — 12 feet

South Beach, Miami Map — 25 feet

South Beach, Miami Map — 25 feet

Ocean Drive Map — 0 feet

Ocean Drive — 0 feet

Ocean Drive Map — 5 feet

Ocean Drive — 5 feet

Ocean Drive Map — 12 feet

Ocean Drive — 12 feet

Ocean Drive Map — 25 feet

Ocean Drive — 25 feet

Washington Monument Map — 0 feet

Washington Monument — 0 feet

Washington Monument Map — 5 feet

Washington Monument — 0 feet

Washington Monument Map — 12 feet

Washington Monument — 12 feet

Washington Monument Map — 25 feet

Washington Monument — 25 feet

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