Oceanfront property might not be a sound investment in the future. A new interactive map from scientists at Climate Central (via Daily Mail) shows how much of the Los Angeles coast could be gobbled up by rising ocean levels due to climate change. The map allows users to compare how far ocean levels will spill into the city if carbon emissions continue to go unchecked, as well as the results of several levels of carbon emissions cuts. Surprise, surprise: the stronger the emissions restrictions, the fewer homes are submerged.
An explainer in the map elaborates that these maps don't attempt to show what will happen in this century. Rather, they show "scientific projections"—taken from study by the Climate Central researchers (along with other international climate change scientists) and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences— "of the different post-2100 sea levels that could lock in this century, depending upon the carbon pathway we select." In other words, they attempt to illustrate what actions taken in this century could mean in the even-longer term.
How long it takes for to the waters to get this high varies, and it depends on the rate that a huge ice sheet in Antarctica melts as well as carbon emissions, the Washington Post notes in regard to the maps. It could be less than 200 years from now, or it could be 2,000 years.
But what the maps emphasize is the vast difference between pretty much doing nothing about climate change, and making an effort to stem the pollution that causes the planet to heat up. Just check out these side-by-side views of what SoCal could look like: the one on the left ("unchecked pollution") is water levels if nothing is done to decrease carbon emissions—"essentially the course we are on now," the map says. The view on the right shows where the ocean will reach only if we commit to some extreme carbon cuts soon ("annual emissions rapidly peak in 2020, decline sharply to reach zero just after 2080, and become slightly negative after that."). Either way, things are not looking good for Long Beach, Marina del Rey, and Malibu.
· Surging Seas: Mapping Choices [Official site]
· Will YOUR city survive the next century? [Daily Mail]
· This is how rising seas will reshape the face of the United States [WaPo]