Using Google Earth to predict sea level rise

A new study released recently by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Innsbruck includes some impactful visualizations of what sea level rise could mean to various historic sites over the next 2000 years. Using Andrew David Thaler’s Drown Your Town technique, they created images such as this:

statue of liberty under water

The reason for going 2000 years into the future was because “projections for global sea level rise during the next century vary widely, to smooth out any uncertainties in long-term forecasts.” To compound the problem, the Google Earth overlay for this can be inaccurate as Andrew mentioned on his site:

These are not perfect models of sea level rise, they are just useful (and entertaining) visualization tools. The topology in Google Earth is not perfect (you will find places where the sea itself is higher than you sea level rise layer).

All of that said, it’s still an interesting look at our possible future, and some of the images are very thought-provoking. You can check out the full article here or read the full study here.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Google earth is not actually used to predict the sea-level rise, only visualise modelled sea level rises….

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