Politics

Artist Demonstrates What California Cities Would Look Like Beneath 25 Feet of Water

Credit: Nickolay Lamm

Interested in what California’s major cities will look like should sea levels rise a good 25 feet?

Earlier this month, artist Nickolay Lamm put together a series of graphics that illustrate what would happen in San Francisco, San Diego and Venice, Calif. should climate change bring matters to that point (which, in case you’ve begun to nail plywood to your windows, won’t come to pass for a long, long time).

First posted to the blog StorageFront and republished on a number of science-focused websites — including Popular Science, which ran Lamm’s graphics in GIF form — the images portray well-known parts of the three cities as they would appear during some pretty severe flooding.

For instance, take San Fran’s South of Market neighborhood, home to AT&T Park and the San Francisco Giants:

Credit: Nickolay Lamm

Or the San Diego Convention Center in that city’s Marina district:

Credit: Nickolay Lamm

Lamm determined just how submerged to make each area of each city using sea level rise maps, topography maps and a formula that goes like this:

Water depth at MHW = SLR – (E – (MHW – NAVD88))

“Without going into too much detail,” Lamm writes in the way of an explanation, “it’s simply a formula which takes into account the elevation, high tide, and the amount of sea level rise.” NAVD88 is the North American Vertical Datum of 1988, a standard reference point used when measuring vertical distances in the U.S.

“Sea level rise that makes cities uninhabitable is not going to happen in our lifetime,” Lamm notes, “but, it is going to happen sooner or later unless we cut carbon emissions.” He cites an April National Science Foundation study finding that cutting back use of four specific atmospheric pollutants — methane, tropospheric ozone, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon — could “forestall the rate of sea level rise by roughly 25 to 50 percent.”

In April, Lamm produced a similar series dealing with how a sea level rise would play out in the East Coast cities of New York, Washington, D.C. and Miami.

Tags: policylivabilityclimate changeartinfrastrucutresea levels