Rising Water Effects for NYC in Google Earth – Part II

NYC Flooded 8 meters in Google EarthBack in early April I shared some fun stuff a GEC member called ‘Bzoltan’ did which shows the effects resulting if the seas rose from 1 to up to 100 meters. He takes advantage of Google Earth’s 3D terrain and ability to place 3D polygons at various altitudes above sea level. I say “fun” because 100 meters is a very unlikely thing to happen, but there is certainly a serious implication behind it. Bzoltan used a simple spherical approach, and Google Earth’s time animation feature, to allow you to get a dynamic rough approximation to what might happen. And, just for fun, he also did one allowing you to see what it would look like to fill up the Grand Canyon.
Meanwhile, Leszek Pawlowicz – who writes the useful Free Geography Tools (FreeGeographyTools.com) blog – wrote about some software tools available to do a more serious analysis of the effects of rising waters. Leszek used high resolution terrain data from the USGS, and some free software from a professor of the US Naval Academy, to generate some interesting animations illustrating more accurate methods for predicting the effects of rising water. I suggested he produce some visualizations for Google Earth, and yesterday he posted a KML file which shows the effects of water rising 8 meters on New York City . If you play around with this file, or read his very informative blog post, you’ll see it is an image overlay with a shape which was cut from a high resolution terrain map of the area. Turn on the 3D Buildings to add more three dimensionality to the scene. Leszek plans to put together a time animation for Google Earth based on his more realistic approach to calculating water rising effects. In the meantime, you can see his movie showing rising waters for Manhattan using other tools:

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Well, just “for fun” I’d like to see your neighborhood under water. I would enjoy it very much in light of the picture above.

  2. Rick Lempke says

    Just think instead of being brainwashed by everyone.
    -How much H2O is available that isn’t already in the form of water?
    -How much water does ice make when it melts?
    -What is the surface are of the earth that this melting ice has to cover?
    -Think about how the slope of the shoreline affects the area that the water has to cover….
    -As the water levels goes up and further away from the surface, do the radians increase? How does that affect the calculations?
    This is only the beginning of the things that most people don’t think about… Its time to stop listening to the bs that everyone is feeding you and time to start using a dying skill…. thinking!

  3. OK, Mr. Lempke, as the guy who created that image, I accept your challenge to do some thinking, and answer your questions:
    “How much H2O is available that isn’t already in the form of water? What is the surface are of the earth that this melting ice has to cover? Think about how the slope of the shoreline affects the area that the water has to cover…. As the water levels goes up and further away from the surface, do the radians increase? How does that affect the calculations?”
    If all the ice in Antarctica and Greenland melted, sea levels would rise 65 meters. And yes, the scientists who have done these calculations are smart enough to take into account the area covered, topography, slopes at the shore, etc.. Why would you think they wouldn’t have taken those factors into account?
    Reference: http://www.usatoday.com/weather/resources/askjack/2004-11-21-melting-polar-ice_x.htm
    “How much water does ice make when it melts?”
    The real question I think you’re asking is, “What volume of water is ultimately created when a certain volume of ice melts?” And that’s not a straightforward answer. When ice at 0C melts into lquid water at 0C, there’s a roughly 10% reduction in overall volume. As the water warms from 0C to 4C, it actually shrinks further, but then above 4C it starts expanding again.
    Reference: http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/explan2.html
    The predicted rises in sea level occur not just because ice is melting and the meltwater is flowing into the ocean, but because the water that’s already in the ocean is expanding as it warms. The last time that temperature were at the levels predicted for the end of this century, 3 million years ago in the Pliocene, the sea level due to both melted ice and expansion was 25 meters higher than it is now.
    Reference: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20060925/
    I might also add that I chose the value of 8 meters for that image not specifically because of global-warming-induced sea level rise, but because that’s the approximate height of the storm surge seen from both Camille and Katrina. NYC hasn’t been hit by a major hurricane in over 70 years, but another hit is almost a certainty. So certain, in fact, that some insurers have stopped writing new homeowner’s policies in the NY area because of the property damage, and financial losses for them, that such a storm surge could generate.
    If you didn’t like my 8-meter image, you’ll probably hate my animation (coming on http://freegeotools.blogspot.com later this week); it will take the flooding to 12 meters, the level that would occur if the Greenland icecap melted completely and the West Antarctic ice shelf collapsed. This is the “doomsday” scenario featured in the movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”. It’s highly unlikely, but scientists agree that it’s possible, and if it happens it will happen quickly.

  4. Ruh Lobsang says

    Dear Leszek,
    I am in McLeodganj, a place in Himalyas, where Dalai Lama lives.
    I heard a being telling me that i need to move to hills, as a catostrophe on global scale is coming.
    I could not comprehend intially what he was saying, but I guess the fact he asked me to move to mountains means that it has something to do with water rising.
    I have started searching on google with key word “water rising”, you’s is the first website that I could hit.
    Can you make a model of 5, 10, 15, 20, upto 60 m and suggest places in the world which will be habitable.
    The being told me that very few places on earth will remain habitable.
    Please help.

  5. Lobsang,
    If you are in the Himalayas, you don’t have to worry about sea level rise directly, since you are almost certainly high enough in elevation to escape the direct consequences of that. You can see that in Google Earth using this global sea level rise simulation:
    My simulation is at a greater spatial resolution, but doesn’t cover as much area as BZoltan’s.
    But the cause of sea level rise, global warming, is something that none of us can escape by running away, or seeking refuge, since the effects will be everywhere; there’s no place any of us can hide from it. For example, I live at an elevation of about 2200 meters, so I don’t have to worry about sea level rise. But I live surrounded by pine forests that some say will be gone in 25 years, killed by global-warming-enhanced droughts. And the forests may well disappear by fire, taking me and my house with it. In the Himalayas, warming temperatures and increased snow and ice melt are likely to cause major changes in the environment that you can’t run away from. For better or for worse, there is no solution for any individual; we must solve it together, or face the consequences together.

  6. The rising sea levels should be of concern to everybody.
    Furthermore, the climate changes already happening aren’t just going to be the bane of the next generations because they’re happening right now!
    Moving to higher grounds, of course, makes perfect sense because if your house is under water, it pretty much messes up your day ; )

  7. Hi there!
    I mean this is not a race, Who’s terrain is more accuracy Leszek’s or mine (NOT MINE, BUT GE’S). Of course, Leszek’s!
    This is only an illustration, a game, what you can do in GE.
    Anyway, keep on Earthing!
    BZoltan (Zoltan BUKI, Hungary)

  8. Rick Lempke says

    You know whats funny.. all of this “evidence” that global warming theorists provide like Learjet Leo and Gulfstream Gore, you have people like me that use deductive reasoning and simplicity to debunk it. I was watching Good Morning America yesterday, 10/02/07 and the weatherman showed satellite images that obiously showed dramatic melting, at least 10% of the northern ice cap due to constant southern winds. I also observe that today on Fox they were showing Large lakes drying up because of a drought and in my home state of New Hampshire all of the lakes and river beds are at an all time low…. WHERE DID ALL THE WATER GO? THERE HAS BEEN NO RISE IN SEA LEVEL! Due to statements made in your “evidence” that would have to had made the sea level rise at least 6.5 meters over the past 3 years.
    We can all make as much of a political conundrum out of it as we wish but dismissing fact doesn’t work for me. I suppose if you don’t like my reasoning you could wish the undisirerable on me and my family like wishing my house under water, like Michele. I’m just really aggrivated by the scare tactics used by the left and the right.

  9. in respons to the second post made by Rick Lempke,
    FINALLY, someone has said something f***ing intelligent about the ice caps melting.
    FFS people! why dont you actually think rather than relying on “al gore” to do the thinking for u… i mean come on, why dont you f***ing fill up a glass of water, put some ice in it, mark the water level, leave it until the ice melts, and then see how much the water has gone down by… remember ice is expanded water!, that is why whenever you put water into a bottle and freeze it, what does it do? IT BREAKS THE BOTTLE BECAUSE OF THE ICE EXPANDING! DERR! to think something so simple can be forgotten by some guy making it sound scary

  10. In your video, how much time has passed after each meter of rising water?

  11. To Daniel
    Your point is correct, but the sheer amount of the ice melting is still enough to make the water rise this amount.
    To Mr. Lempke
    Plus, the lakes in new hampshire are probably drying up due to loss of groundwater springs. Because it is fresh water, it cant come from the ocean.

  12. To reply to the person who said that ice is expanded water, true as that may be you do not have the full view.
    The ice that is melting is a thing called “land ice” ice that covers the surface of the Earth, this can be found in places like Greenland and Antarctica. This is melting and flowing into the ocean causing there to be MORE WATER in the ocean.
    If you had bothered to watch The Inconvenient Truth before criticizing it then you would know that.

  13. anderson says

    Daniel, you are an complete idiot, and just like all the other idiots, you don’t know you are an idiot. Actually, you think you are very intelligent. Watch Al Gore’s video idiot, just like Harry here stated, he clearly points the difference between land ice, and “idiot ice”.
    Al Gore on one side of discussion, idiopts like you on the other, I WILL have Al Gore do the thinking for me.
    Maybe you should too?

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.