7 maps show the dramatic effects of rising sea levels

31 Jul 2015

With the news that Washington DC appears doomed to be submerged in the years to come with the onset of rising sea levels, here are 7 maps showing how even a small rise will see cities being submerged.

Those in the capital city of the US – Washington DC – are likely to be heading out to their nearest outdoor activity store to pick up waterproof gear with the news that new research shows that the city is likely to be largely underwater in the decades to come.

The revelations came in a paper published online that suggested that the city’s fate, while not aided by a rise in sea levels, will be made immeasurably worse thanks to the city’s foundations, which are effectively sinking at an alarming rate.

Over the past 60 years, the area around Washington DC known as Chesapeake has been shown to be significantly worse off when it comes to rising sea levels with a rate twice as fast as much of the east coast of the US.

Taking samples of the earth in the DC area, the University of Vermont team discovered that the results of vast pressure exerted by glaciers during the last ice age have left the land vulnerable to large sea changes.

If the calculations are correct, the Washington DC area could drop six inches by 2100, resulting in a 3ft rise in sea levels.

With this in mind, how do Washington and other world cities stack up to similar sea level changes?

Using the website www.floodmap.net, we can see exactly what it looks like with the dark blue pixels representing the rising sea levels.

1. Washington DC

Rising sea levels Washington

Taking into account the sinking of Washington DC, the sea levels seen in the city will bring it right to the door of the US president at The White House.

2. Dublin

Rising sea levels Dublin

We would have to say goodbye to Bull Island if the Irish Sea were to rise by 3m. Likewise, much of Ringsend and along the route of the Liffey will be quite damp.

3. Amsterdam

Rising sea levels Amsterdam

Oh dear. The notoriously low-lying city is pretty much doomed in every sense of the word. Bar a few patches, the city will resemble the 1990s Kevin Costner flick, Waterworld.

4. Tokyo

Rising sea levels Tokyo

While the city centre of Tokyo seems to remain relatively unharmed by the rising sea levels, the same can’t be said for the Edogawa region. Given that Tokyo is one of the densest cities on Earth, it doesn’t really set the people of Japan’s capital in good stead.

5. Yancheng

Rising sea levels Yancheng

Arguably the least-known city on this list, Yancheng in China is still home to 16m-plus people, but appears to be right in the firing line when it comes to rising sea levels. Vast areas of the city and surrounding area will be submerged by a 3m rise, almost similar in scale to Amsterdam.

6. Venice

Rising sea levels Venice

The city of love will eventually become the island of love once sea levels rise. The city, which is infamous for its waterways used in a similar fashion to roads, will become somewhat distant from the Italian mainland by the end of the century.

7. New York

Rising sea levels New York

The subway of New York is one of the greatest engineering achievements around, due in part to the fact they can keep it dry despite increasing pressure from the Atlantic Ocean constantly trying to fill it. By the end of the century, however, much of it, as well as the southern tip of Manhattan, will be lost.

Drowning person image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic