West Coast Floods of the Future Inundate Cities
Now might be a great time to leave notes telling future generations to invest in kayaks. Or canoes. Or water wings. If one artist’s data-driven animations of sea level rise along the West Coast become reality, humanity will need more ways to stay afloat.
Pittsburgh-based artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm works to bring attention to topics he feels are being overlooked. You might have seen his recent project showing Barbie with an average woman’s measurements. Just as impressive are his illustrations and animated GIFs depicting recognizable locations along the West Coast with water levels rising up to 25 feet.
Lamm’s animated GIFs showing tourist destinations going underwater first emerged last spring but since then he’s also released a series showing popular areas along the West Coast, PopSci’s Shaunacy Ferro reported. The artist used data and maps from Climate Central, an independent organization of journalists and scientists started in 2008 to share the science and effects of climate change with the public.
Last year scientists from Climate Central published a paper that assessed what a sea level rise between three and about 20 feet — or one to six meters — above high tide would mean to coastal states by the end of the century. If all the ice melts in the next few hundred years, the oceans will rise between 20 to 30 feet.
For each location Lamm chose — including Venice Beach, San Diego, and San Francisco — he started with a stock image and determined the exact location on Google Earth. From there he located the same point on sea level rise maps that indicate how much flooding could occur at that location over time.
Lamm used a formula that took into account the elevation, high tide and the amount of sea level rise to find out how much water would end up being on the ground. Then he illustrated the water at five, 12 and 25 feet.
In his animation of San Francisco (top right) even the lowest of the worst case scenarios takes out AT&T Park, where the San Francisco Giants play. I’d love for someone to work with Lamm on an app where you could turn on your smartphone camera and view what sea level rise would mean exactly where you stand in a coastal area. In the future it might very well mean, “Run!”
Images: An artist’s realistic animations show what 25 feet of water would do to the West Coast including Venice Beach (top) and San Francisco (right). Credit: Nickolay Lamm.