The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting
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Wednesday, 28 May 2014 11:00




The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting, and scientists have been examining what is happening and how it will affect us.  In 2012 Climate Central reported that it would result in a sea level rise of four feet over the next two centuries, and eventually 10 feet or more.  However, new data from the University of California Irvine and NASA show that the glacier is melting faster than previously predicted, meaning that the total rise in sea level could be much higher.

How will this affect the land?  In the U.S. there are 40 large cities where at least half the housing is within that 10-foot margin. 27 of those cities are in Florida, which is the state which will be most adversely affected. In fact, in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, 85% of the land is likely to become submerged.  Those counties will simply disappear into the sea. In Florida as a whole, 32,000 miles of road and $950 billion property are going to be affected.

Climate Central estimates that in total as much as 28,800 square miles of land could be lost, and that currently there are about 12.3 million people living in the threatened areas.  This is close to 1 in 25 of the total population of the United States.

In New York there are an estimated 700,000 people living on land which is less than 10 feet above the current high tide line, and the value of vulnerable property in New York and New Jersey is in excess of $300 billion.

Climate Central has released a series of photo-realistic pictures showing the effect of a 12-foot-or-more rise in sea level.  They show famous scenes from different cities which will be partly or totally submerged including Venice Beach and Harvard University Campus.  They also provide interactive maps allowing people to search for the impact on different cities and areas of the country.