photo: ActiveSteve/Creative Commons
Multi-meter sea level rise is now pretty much a certainty, even if the timescale is still very much up for debate and influenced by how much and how quickly we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Another wrinkle in the scenario is how some places at sea level may be affected more than others. Recent research shows that New York City, Vancouver, Tasmania and the Maldives may get much more than the average amount, up to 20% more in fact. BBC News explains some of the reasons for the regional variation:
Areas closer to melting ice sheets will experience a smaller sea level rise than those further away. This is because ice sheets such as those on Greenland or Antarctica gravitationally attract the water. This pulls the water towards the coast, effectively making it pile up to an extent that can be measured in centimeters. If the ice begins to melt, it raises the average sea level simply by entering the sea; but the gravitational pull is now smaller, so locally the sea level may go down. "So if the Greenland sheet melts more, that's better for New York; but if Antarctica melts, that's worse for New York - and it's equally true for northwestern Europe," Professor van der Wal told BBC News.
So beyond re-envisioning New York to combat sea level rise at the conceptual level, what areas of the city will be flooded? Fortunately our friends at Skeptical Science recently guest posted just about this subject. Check out this section of a map detailing how various East Coast US cities are going to be hit:
Full and bigger version of this map via Skeptical Science.
The red areas are places to be flooded with 1 meter sea level rise (all but certain by 2100); the yellow areas are with 6 meters of sea level rise (which would happen over a longer time scale for sure, but is still worth considering as something which we are collectively setting in motion).