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Community / Public space

These maps show US cities once the ice caps have melted

Here’s two cheerful facts to brighten your day:

1. By current estimates, if the polar ice caps melt, sea levels around the world will rise by between 80 and 100m.

2. Many cities (and, by default, around 70 per cent of the world’s population) border on a body of water of some kind. According to 2010 government figures, 39 per cent of US population live on a coast. Half live within 50 miles of the ocean.

Taken together, these facts are enough to make you pack up your possessions and run for the hills (more specifically, some hills which are very far inland). And just in case they didn’t, these maps from cartographer Jeffrey Linn make it very clear quite how screwed we’ll be if/when the waters do rise. 

Linn used topographical information to figure out what bits of US coastal cities would disappear, based on an 80m sea rise. He’s also renamed the cities to reflect their new, water-logged status. Here are the Islands of Portland, Oregon:

Just in case you’re not familiar with the city, and are thinking “well, that doesn’t look too bad…” here’s a map of the city in 2014: 

Next are the islands of Seattle:

Seattle is already surrounded by water, of course. In this bright future, it’ll just be, er, more so.

And finally, LA. Which will basically just disappear: 

Luckily for us, an 80m sea rise won’t happen in our lifetime: it would require every ice sheet on earth to melt. Unluckily for our grandchildren, however, sea levels could rise by around 1m by 2100, contributing to freak weather, temperature rises and, of course, flooding.  


All images: Jeffrey Linn. Prints can be purchased from his website.
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