What should we really expect?
If the Greenland Ice Cap melting over a period of 100 years will cause an increase in sea level of 7 metres, and the Antarctic ice is melting at about the same rate, then we will see an increase in sea levels of 14 metres instead of only 7 metres.
This, however, is a conservative estimate, for it assumes that the rate of melting does not increase.
The rate of melting must increase, for the concentrations of the different greenhouse gases are still increasing. They will continue to increase until we either stop generating more emissions than we can cope with, or effective measures to deal with higher levels of emission are in place and functioning.
If a balance can be reached, it will take some years to achieve. If a balance cannot be reached, global warming, and the rate of ice melting, will continue to increase until all the ice has been melted. This will also be true if a natural accelerating factor switches in, and outstrips our efforts to contain the problem.
If all the ice is melted, there will be enough free water to raise the current sea level by about 75 metres. This is based on estimates for the amount of ice-locked water in Greenland and the Antarctic, (10% and 90% respectively), and allowing a further 5 metres for the content of glaciers around the world.
This last figure may in itself be an underestimate, but in compensation we know that with increasing area, a higher volume of water will be required to achieve the same increase in sea level.
It may be unlikely that this maximum figure would be reached, but the probability lies somewhere between a minimum of 14 metres and the estimated maximum of 75 metres. The possible reasons for not reaching the maximum figure are explained on the ‘Prevention’ page.
To interpret visually the data produced as it affects each country individually, it is convenient to use a contour map of the country. The customary legend for most maps is to use shades of green for low-lying areas, graduating to yellows for the higher ares and browns for the peaks. To show the loss of land caused by rising sea levels, is it only necessary to change the colour of the land area affected to the same colour as that use for the sea – light blue.
In most cases, two animations have been produced – one for 50 years hence, and the second for 100 years in the future. In some cases, only one animation seems necessary, for there are countries that may completely disappear within 50 years, if nothing is done to prevent it.
At the present rate of progress on emissions reduction, it is most unlikely that we will hold the rise in sea level to the minimum of 14 metres, therefore a higher estimate of 40 metres has been applied in the first animation. The full increase of 75 metres is applied in the second.
To see how your country will appear in the future, go to the next page.
This site is reconstructed from a teaching aid I used previously. Unfortunately, many of the files were not preserved over the years, and the few remaining are shown. The missing ones could be regenerated if there is a demand, but the amount of time required exceeds my capacity at the moment.