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Here’s What San Francisco Would Look Like After Sea Level Rise

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

Here’s What San Francisco Would Look Like After Sea Level Rise

Climate Central has published a tool that projects the consequences of climate change.

The effects of global warming and climate change in California become more and more apparent after each devastating wildfire season. As we look to the future, we can expect sea level rise to affect many coastal cities, and the Bay Area is no exception.

According to Climate.gov, the global mean sea level has risen about 8-9 inches (21-24 cm) since 1880. The rise has accelerated in recent years, rising 3.4 inches (87.6mm) between 1990 and 2019 alone. By 2100, levels are expected to increase by at least a foot (0.3 meters), even in the best case scenario. The worst case scenario (high ice loss from Iceland and Greenland) would see an increase of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) by 2100.

In the United States, all coasts outside Alaska are likely to experience sea level rise that is higher than the global average. This is the case especially on the Atlantic seaboard north of Virginia and in the western Gulf of Mexico.

But what causes sea levels to rise? Global warming has two main results with respect to this issue: it causes ice sheets and glaciers to melt, adding water to the ocean; and it makes the ocean volume expand as the water warms. In a smaller capacity, groundwater pumping causes water on land (lakes, rivers, etc) to shift into the oceans.

Sea level rise has drastic consequences beyond a shrinking coastline. Most major cities are located on the world’s coasts, and rising tides will displace millions of people. In the US, 40% of the population lives in at-risk areas. We can expect infrastructure damage to roads, bridges, subways, water supplies, landfills, and much more. There will also be an increase in deadly hurricanes and storms, as well as expensive flooding.

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Here’s what the Bay Area will look like in the event of sea level rise, according to Climate Central.

Sea level rise of 1 foot (0.3 meters) – best case scenario by 2100

Climate Central

Sea level rise of 3 feet (0.9 meters)

Climate Central

Sea level rise of 5 feet (1.5 meters)

Climate Central

Sea level rise of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) – worst case scenario by 2100

Climate Central

Sea level rise of 10 feet (3 meters)

Climate Central

Sea level rise of 15 feet (4.6 meters)

Climate Central

Sea level rise of 20 feet (6.1 meters)

Climate Central

 

Featured image: Climate Central