We are warming the planet. And like ice cubes in a glass of water on a hot summer’s day, Earth’s ice caps will, over the course of centuries, begin to melt and contribute to a rise in sea level. Unfortunately, most of the world’s population lives close to shorelines or the rivers connecting continental interiors to the sea. The world for the generations of children following us may very well look much different than it does today.
The New York Times uses an interactive piece to show how sea level rises will impact coastlines and inland ports in the United States. Using a slider, the user can investigate sea level changes of the expected five feet over the next one to three centuries, or two longer-term scenarios that are not yet certain but possible. Below are a few of the 24 cities and metropolitan areas.
In Philadelphia, a rise of 25 feet inundates South Philly, Old City, Fishtown, Kensington, Port Richmond and the other neighbourhoods close to the Delaware. The Jersey Shore still exists. It has just moved dozens of miles inland. The Cape May Peninsula is well submerged.
Credit for the piece goes to Baden Copeland, Josh Keller, and Bill Marsh.
When I was younger—albeit not by much—I applied my interests in geography, history, and politics to create maps of fictional places. I used knowledge of things like the Hadley cell and the Koppen climate classification system to figure where on the maps I drew people would be able to live in temperate climates and where nobody could live because it would be an arid desert. I also read encyclopedias growing up, so go figure.
But I never bothered to apply my amateurish interest in geography and climatology to Earth. Rather, to an alternate Earth. But Randall Munroe over at xkcd did take a “what if” about a rotated Earth’s surface and investigated what would be the results. Of course he is also not an expert and even after thousands of years of living on this planet, humanity has yet to figure out all the variables that determine climates. But he gave it a shot. And he explained how it works (in theory). The result is called Cassini.
Blue is cold; think Siberia. Green is temperate; think rain and trees and, well, green things. Yellow is arid; think deserts. Red is hurricane zones—appropriate for summer. Think, well, hurricanes.
Turns out Philadelphia would still be a great place to live. Just saying.