23 December 2014

Mega Sea Level Rise: New England Island and Nicaragua Passage

While investigating what would happen to the world with 200 foot sea level rise, I found the most excellent Global Sea Level Rise Map - an interactive map on Geology.com. Unlike most sites with interactive maps that only go as high as 55 inches or 5 meters, the Geology.com map goes up to a whopping 60 meters! That's 196.85 feet. Close enough to 200 feet for me.

I asked myself one question. Which land-locked countries of the world would become "unlocked" and consider starting a navy or a merchant fleet. Of course this assumes that at the high ambient temperatures necessary for all ice to melt, we'd still have anything resembling a 21st Century country or even the human race.

But let's find out anyway. First we'll look at North and South America.

North America
All country's at 2014 sea level have a coastline. No change.
However, a few dramatic things do happen.

Panama: The canal is no longer necessary. It's there naturally. Actually it's there thanks to the Culebra Cut, created in the creation of the Panama Canal.

Panama's "Natural" Canal. Image: Geology.com
Nicaragua: Finally gets the "canal" that France's Napoleon III and others said it would build back in the 1800s. Actually a Hong Kong company is building the Nicaragua Canal now, so this may be less than exciting in the year 3500 when sea level rise finally reaches 200'.

Hudson River Valley: The sea inundates the great Hudson River Valley and Lake Champlain to become the great Hudson Champlain Passage, separating New England from the rest of North America. It's a narrow passage, but it's at sea level! Sure it's really New England plus Canada's New Brunswick and parts of Quebec. Maybe it would have another tea party and break away.

Most interestingly, the new Hudson Champlain Passage would be so narrow in most places it would be similar to Turkey's Bosporus and Dardanelles.

The narrowest segment is near Lake George, north of Glens Falls.
Hundson River Valley meet Lake Champlain and salt water. Image: Geology.com
Cuba: Breaks into three major islands.
Cuba X 3. Image: Geology.com

Lost Countries: The Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.


12 December 2014

Mission Bay Rising

Two-hundred feet sea level rise is a high elevation (and a lot of extra water in our seas - thank you Antarctica Water Bank). However dramatic 200 feet sea level rise is, a 25 foot rise is much more likely. Plus you have to get to 25 feet rise before getting to 200 feet. 

So, last month Burrito Justice and I wrote a new chapter in the San Francisco Archipelago - Sea Level Rise story. Written as an article for the neighborhood newspaper The Potrero View, the Mission Bay Rises Again covers the period from near future times to ~2036, when sea levels rise to 25 feet above current sea level. 

The piece coincided with their most excellent history and map issue from November 2014. 

Enjoy the piece below.

Mission Bay Rises 

by Brian Stokle and Burrito Justice
Images by Brian Stokle

The past 10 years have been both cruel and kind to the Bay Area. A decade ago, 15 million people were jolted awake by the magnitude 7.7 Claremont Earthquake that devastated much of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda and San Francisco. No one slept well for months afterwards. 2028 was a dark year, but as our homes and offices swayed, few suspected the quake would trigger an economic boom.

The rebuilding rivaled post-1906 San Francisco and even China after the 2019 Shanghai quake. Much like the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, the San Francisco Olympics of 2032 proved to the world that we were back.

25 foot sea level rise in San Francisco. Image: Brian Stokle

Sea levels had only risen eight feet by 2028; thankfully the earthquake hit at low tide. While “new” seawalls and engineered bay marshes kept most of the City safe, the breaches in the Mission Bay and Embarcadero seawalls were some of the most frightening moments of the City’s history. But the Herculean effort of San Francisco Department of Public Works crews and ordinary citizens filling sandbags kept the Muni and Bay Area Rapid Transit tunnels from flooding, and saved the University of California, San Francisco-Mission Bay hospital. Who knew the old Breda light rail cars would prove so useful? And few will forget women in labor being shuttled to the UCSF emergency room in canoes.