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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So Long, and Thanks for All the SUVs

posted by on July 15 at 10:50 AM

Via Sightline, check out NASA’s new ClimateTimeMachine.


This screen grab shows parts of the southeastern US that would be underwater if worldwide sea levels rose by 6 meters—the amount of rise predicted if the Greenland ice sheet were to melt completely.

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Well, that money we spent rebuilding New Orleans was sure put to good use.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 15, 2008 11:01 AM

good resource but you're a smug little shit.

Posted by karst | July 15, 2008 11:02 AM

Well, then, I guess it's a good thing that it'll never happen in our lifetimes.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | July 15, 2008 11:06 AM

Your link is broken.

Posted by julia | July 15, 2008 11:11 AM

Eh. Its Florida. They hate teh gays, except, maybe, in Miami. Fuck 'em.

Posted by TheMisanthrope | July 15, 2008 11:11 AM
Posted by Gordon Werner | July 15, 2008 11:17 AM

Apart from New Orleans, which is doomed regardless, I don't see anything there I'd miss.

Posted by Fnarf | July 15, 2008 11:17 AM

Sooo... what about the East and West Coasts? Surely plenty of land would go under water there? Or not?

Truthfully, this AS ITSELF isn't all that scary.

Posted by Nora | July 15, 2008 11:20 AM

They'll just put up levies to stop the water, just like in New Orleans. I somehow doubt that Miami would just allow itself to sink below the warterline.

Posted by Dingo Rossi | July 15, 2008 11:20 AM

Now you're seeing the true brilliance of the Bush invasion of Iraq. It's not about the oil, it's about the changing climate that will turn iraq from an isolated desert into a beachfront oasis wonderland as the US coastal areas are turned to swamp. Obviously the Miamians will be the first to be relocated. And @1, what money? Last I knew the government has hardly lifted a finger to help rebuild NO. Again, obviously the brilliant forward-thinking of the Bush administration that recognized it's underwater in 30 to 50 years anyhow.

Posted by Obvious | July 15, 2008 11:23 AM

There goes Dad's house. *sigh*

Posted by NaFun | July 15, 2008 11:35 AM

And nothing of value was lost.

Posted by Sirkowski | July 15, 2008 11:40 AM


The government has spent tons of money on the rebuilding effort. Whether it's gone to people who actually need it is another story.


A levy might work for a small area, such as one city -- New Orleans, but no one is going to build a seawall around a huge peninsula.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 15, 2008 11:41 AM

6 meters sea level rise is certainly a dire situation. It is important to remember a few things when looking at these maps:
1. Although it is likely given current trends the destruction of the Greenland Ice Sheet is down the road, it will take a long time for that sucker to melt all way.
2. You can completely screw up most coastal cities and ecosystems with as little as a foot of sea level rise ( a situation which appears highly likely to occur in the next several decades).

Posted by Sasha | July 15, 2008 11:46 AM

While it's fantastic that they show what would be covered with various rises in sea levels, and they state that melting of the entire Greenland ice sheet would mean a 6-meter increase, what I think would be most useful are guesstimated times for these events. If temperature and CO2 levels continue rising at current rates, how many years would it take to melt the ice sheet? Is the presumably concurrent melting of glaciers and pole ice such an insignificant quantity that you only need to consider it's melting?

Posted by Timeline? | July 15, 2008 11:54 AM

Ouch, that looks infected. I suggest a round of antibiotics.

Posted by butterw | July 15, 2008 12:17 PM

@9 i have to disagree, given the presumably gradual nature of the sea rise building levys and other sea barriers would be perfectly feasible, just extraordinarily expensive and completely avoidable.

and we should all hope that these areas don't get flooded, because if they do everyone living there will seek out new places to live, like high and dry (sorta damp) seattle.

Posted by douglas | July 15, 2008 12:31 PM

Good thing we're working so hard to save the planet in this neck of the woods. That garbage tax on platsic bags will create some excellent information on recycling that everyone will read (and nobody will throw away). Greg Nickels will save us all!!!!

Posted by Clint | July 15, 2008 12:33 PM

you know, i'm all for responsible consumption of non-renewable resources and reducing pollution and blah blah blah, but hitting people over the head with nightmarish scenarios based on science that 99.9% of the public are not educated/indoctrinated enough to understand, let alone hold a meaningful opinion on, isn't a very productive way to go about making those changes. to be fair, i don't have any other suggestions, but this whole "be afraid, be VERY afraid" bullshit becomes both numbing and insulting after a while.

Posted by brandon | July 15, 2008 12:36 PM

i'll miss miami, specially the calle 8 festival. best looking latinas in the us.

Posted by SeMe | July 15, 2008 12:36 PM

Hey folks we are also on the sea shore. 6 meters would turn Pioneer Square and Sodo into a lagoon (like it used to be). It would also wipe out Aberdeen and also turn the Kitsap peninsula into an island.

Posted by Zander | July 15, 2008 12:36 PM

I think Lex Luthor may be behind global warming.

Now's the time to buy up that soon to be beachfront inland property.

Posted by monkey | July 15, 2008 12:54 PM

Time to have the Obama government cancel all flood insurance for the ultra-rich mansions along the coasts.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 15, 2008 12:55 PM

Your smug hatred of SUVs means jack shit until you stop eating meat.

Posted by w7ngman | July 15, 2008 1:13 PM

These studies don't show the affects of wind currents, the gulf stream, and precipitation and their influences on the weather and type over-hyped "global warming" debacle. What you're seeing here is junk science and it's appalling that taxpayers are paying for this.

Posted by raindorp | July 15, 2008 1:15 PM

I guess the South had better get busy risin' before the sea level catches up...

Posted by Greg | July 15, 2008 1:29 PM

and here we have raindrop on the other end of the i-have-no-idea-what-i'm-bitching-about-but-i'm-going-to-bitch-anyway spectrum.

it's "appalling" that taxpayer money is paying for research into our impact on the environment? i suppose you have the PhD to back up your assertion that this is "junk science"?

this is why it was a *HUGE* mistake for the environmental movement to hitch their entire wagon to global warming. i don't think anybody can disagree that burning through non-renewable resources without giving much thought to wtf we're going to do once they're gone, or pumping tons of carbon and other toxins out of the earth and into the atmosphere are both catastrophically bad ideas. but you CAN disagree about whether or not florida will be underwater in 50 years because nobody knows what will happen in 50 years.

the fact that most peoples' opinions on these matters are influenced not by knowledge of the science but on their system political beliefs should make everyone stop and scratch their head. this is no longer about what's best for the planet, it's all about picking a side in the culture war.

Posted by brandon | July 15, 2008 1:33 PM

alas poor Norwich, I knew it so well.

Posted by blank12357 | July 15, 2008 1:36 PM

Hey Raindrop @25, what part, exactly, is "junk science"? The whole thing? All this shows is what will be covered with a corresponding rise is sea level. This is pretty straightforward: get a data set of lat/lon/height_above_current_sea_level, and then change the color of any points that are equal to or less than the proposed increase. They aren't making any projections of when or likeliness of these events happening. The other maps are all historical data, no projections where you can claim the model they're using is faulty. So where exactly is the "junk science"?

Posted by wha? | July 15, 2008 1:49 PM

What's going to happen to Amsterdam?

Posted by Smade | July 15, 2008 2:09 PM

raindorp [sic] @25 is right - instead of wasting taxpayer money NASA could have just gotten everyone global warming mugs! If you "click to enlarge" you can see the before/after special effects.

Also, I wonder how much money NASA paid for that music? It was creeping me out.

Posted by asteria | July 15, 2008 2:12 PM

Imagine for a second that the area shown was the Northwest US instead of the Southeast US. How do you think Seattle would look?

Posted by jean genie | July 15, 2008 2:23 PM

Pretty good, actually, other than the mudflats we call downtown and Harbor Island, @32.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 15, 2008 2:26 PM

If the sea level rose a few meters, all that prime lake union / lake wa / mercer island property would be threatened too (or, ships can only move through the locks at low tide)

Posted by Gate's g^2-grandkids'll be pissed | July 15, 2008 2:35 PM


They have a Northern Europe option which shows at least half of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, under water.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 15, 2008 2:35 PM

Note: Greenland is just the start. The Antarctic ice sheet, if melted entirely, would raise sea level by 61 meters.

Now, it's unlikely that Antarctica's ice sheets will wholly melt, but the Western sheet is likely to melt if the Greenland sheet melts. Together, that's 12-13 meters, not the mere 6 meters displayed at the extreme of this animation.

Posted by Cascadian | July 15, 2008 2:41 PM

If you want to see what sea rise looks like in Seattle, see The default map location shows the UK, but you can move the view to look at our part of the world.


1-3m: flooding in the industrial areas of Seattle, starting at Harbor Island and creeping up and out from the Duwamish, eventually taking out Georgetown not to mention the center of trade for the whole city (and low-lying parts of Tukwila and Kent). Interbay also starts to go under. This is the likely scenario over the rest of this century, if we avoid catastrophic flooding. The good news, in other words.

6m (Greeland ice sheet): Seattle is an island except for a small isthmus in Renton. Alki is gone. Kent is a shallow bay separating the West Seattle Peninsula from the beaches along what is now the East Valley Highway.

8m: Seattle is an island, period. So's Magnolia (Interbay is gone).

14m: The Duwamish Inlet reaches Auburn. Capitol Hill is still dry.

Tacoma follows a similar progression with flooding starting in shipping areas first, then creeping up and out from the Puyallup until you have beaches in Sumner at 14m.

Did I mention Capitol Hill is unaffected? I guess this isn't a problem after all.

Posted by Cascadian | July 15, 2008 3:20 PM

Well since the suprise complete melting of the entire North Pole this year didnt do a damn thing to our ocean levels Im not too worried.

Posted by JesseJB | July 15, 2008 4:21 PM

@38, the ice on the north pole isn't sitting on a landmass -- it's largely floating in the ocean already. In other words, it's volume is a part of the current ocean levels. The ice in the south pole and greenland is mostly elevated on a land mass, and when it melts it will be adding to the volume of water in the ocean (mitigated slightly by the higher capacity of warmer air to hold water).

Posted by you're not too educated | July 15, 2008 5:53 PM

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