Global warming is officially a lot worse than we thought.
Last week, a new study published in the journal Nature found that sea levels worldwide are expected to surge almost twice as fast as previously believed–about six feet by 2100. While that might not sound like a lot, it can have disastrous effects around the world.
The reason for the big jump is that previous estimates of ocean level rise relied on the theory that smaller glaciers would be the driving force behind the phenomenon. Except scientists have now begun to discover that, in fact, massive ice sheets in both Antarctica and Greenland are melting, leeching way larger amounts of water into various oceans than previously believed.
So how will the planet be affected by this?
“The worst case scenarios (if they are correct) would have massive coastal and island impacts around most of the globe,” one of the study’s lead authors, Robert DeConto, a professor of Climatology at the University of Massachusetts, wrote in an email.
While he added that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what nations will be threatened because that research is only just getting underway, there are interactive maps online that allow you to simulate what ocean level increases will look like around the world. The best one we could find was created by the NOAA and is U.S.-specific, but a worldwide version is also available right here.
Simply set the ocean level rise to two metres or six feet to get an idea of what the future might look like. Initially, it may seem that not much has changed, but we’ll give you some areas to focus on.
You’ll notice that Kiribati, an island nation south of Hawaii, will essentially be swallowed by the ocean and eliminated from the map with an ocean level rise of two metres. Florida’s Key West and even Miami Beach will likely see some flooding. Meanwhile, parts of India, Bangladesh and The Bahamas will see shrinking coastlines. In Canada, look to Richmond, B.C., or Halifax and Sable Island in Nova Scotia.
Keep in mind that these maps were not created by the same people who conducted the study, and that they aren’t perfect. There are certain factors the map’s algorithms can’t process (such as the dykes near Richmond, B.C., for example), but they both take elevation into account and are useful for getting an impression of what’s to come.
The study isn’t all doom and gloom though, there is one piece of good news:
“There will be future sea-level rise regardless of what Antarctica does in the future, but this work shows that if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, the threat from Antarctica is much reduced,” DeConto wrote.
In other words, if we treat the planet right, it’ll return the favour by treating us right.