Google Earth plugin highlights impact of rising sea levels on cities across the world

An interactive mapping tool recently developed Climate Central, a non-profit news organisation that analyses and reports on climate science, provides a glimpse of how rising sea levels could affect cities across the world over the next century.

A Google Earth plugin, ‘Surging Seas: Extreme Scenario 2100’ allows users to pan around 3D imagery of coastal cities to understand what the world would look life if the sea levels rose by eight feet.

Bombay following 2 degree warming

Bombay following 4 degree warming

“Long term sea level rise set in motion by near-term carbon emissions threatens major coastal cities across the world,” said the Climate Central team in a statement. “Here, we present paired images showing how iconic locations – in London, Shanghai, Mumbai, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Durban and New York – could fare under scenarios of business as usual versus a sharp transition to clean energy.”

The paired images show two different potential realities. One is a post-2100 sea level rise that could be locked in following a four degree Celsius warming from carbon pollution in the coming decades, while the second is a projection based on a two degree Celsius warming.

Shanghai following 2 degree warming

Shanghai following 4 degree warming

The second image reflects the results of following target limits that have been widely discussed as the threshold to avoid catastrophic climate change, and officially designated as part of the Cancun Agreement, signed in 2010 by international delegates gathered under the umbrella of the UN.

“Projections of locked-in sea level come from our peer-reviewed research published [on] 12 October, [2017] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. A special Climate Central-led report, published 9 November, [2017], described the application of those projections to global elevation data for making the maps upon which these images are based,” the team’s statement added.

The same maps are displayed at ‘Mapping Choices’, Climate Central’s interactive tool that allows users to explore the possible consequences of the four or two degree Celsius warming for any coastal city around the world.

The images here were created by Visual artist Nickolay Lamm, and were based on Climate Central’s sea level map data.

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