Imagine the White House with an ocean front view or Trafalgar Square looking like a swimming pool. It may sound like something out of a Hollywood disaster movie, but these images are from 3D maps created by Climate Central’s Program on Sea Level Rise. These fly-over videos of Buenos Aires, Durban, Hong Kong and other major cities are the latest mapping project from Climate Central to help people visualize the local consequences of global climate change.
To make the maps, Climate Central combined data from Google Maps with projections of sea level rise, which were recently published in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. The maps model how our cities might look in a future with an average global temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius (the internationally agreed upon goal) and 4 degrees Celsius (our current emissions trend).
Although some of the images represent levels of sea change that may take hundreds of years to play out, many scientists agree that some amount of sea level rise is inevitable. “We could effectively lock in one of these alternative futures within the next several decades, depending upon how much carbon we put in the atmosphere,” says Climate Central. Earlier this year, NASA predicted at least three feet of sea level rise from current levels, given the amount of carbon that’s already in the atmosphere and other climate change factors.
Another aspect of this project is that the data are open source, so you can download the sea level rise data layer and make your own map. So, if you’re curious to see what your city or another area might look like as the ocean rises, you can make your own model. If you do, be sure to share it with Climate Central, who promises to post their favorites.