How Far Will Sea Levels Rise? In Miami, They Drew Lines On The Pavement To Find Out
Sea Level Rise in Miami Beach
A woman rides a bike along the chalk outline showing how far inland 3 feet of sea level rise would reach in Miami Beach, Fla. (Courtesy Jayme Gershen/High Water Line)
Looking ahead to a future shaped by Earth’s changing climate, it’s tempting to minimize the impact of a few feet of sea level rise or temperatures a couple degrees higher than today’s, especially when the numbers seem so small.
But in a place like Miami, numbers like those will make a huge difference in the lives of the more than 5 million people who live there – in fact, whether they’ll be able to live there at all.
Visualizing what this future might look like – and sparking conversations about it on the street – is what New York artist Eve Mosher, project co-director Heidi Quante and some 300 volunteers had in mind last week, when they laid down 26 miles of chalk lines through the streets of downtown Miami and Miami Beach.
It was all part of the latest installment in the High Water Line project, which started in New York City back in 2007 and aims to show how rising sea levels will impact life in major cities like Miami, Philadelphia and London this year and next.
“It’s really like a very large performance, with many different people, passing it off from one person to another,” explained project co-coordinator Marta Viciedo. “And the communication, the dialogue that happens [when people ask] hey, what are you doing?”
The lines, drawn with a chalk line marker you’d find at a baseball field, show how far the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay would encroach if sea levels rose by 3 feet and by 6 feet, reflecting optimistic (and pessimistic) forecasts for sea level rise in Miami by 2100.
Following maps based on sea level rise analysis by Climate Central, the volunteers laid down chalk through historic neighborhoods like Little Havana and right up to the doors of both American Airlines Arena, where the NBA’s Miami Heat play, and Marlins Park, the home of baseball’s Miami Marlins.
$900m Risk From Rising Sea Levels
This is what Earth will look like if we melt all the ice
National Geographic has a good, but disturbing, interactive map showing what 216 feet of sea level rise will do to coastlines around the world.
The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas.
There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.