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This Is What Your City Would Look Like If All The World’s Ice Sheets Melt

You’re going to need to learn the names of some new islands.

Portland, Oregon, may not be a coastal city, but if all of the world’s ice sheets melted, it would still end up mostly underwater. In a new series, Seattle cartographer and urban planner Jeffery Linn mapped out what Portland and several other cities would look like with maximum sea level rise.

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Each map includes newly named islands and bays, like the “Chula del Mar” in San Diego. In L.A., the city of Downey has become “Drowney,” and the airport is “Ex-LAX.” The map also notates where landmarks like Disneyland and the Miracle Mile would end up in the newly formed bay.

The mapmaker was inspired by a similar map by a San Francisco blogger. “I’d always been fascinated by what the world would look like with a sea level rise,” Linn says. “I was very impressed with his take on it. So I stole his concept.”

The maps show a very long-term vision of the future but point to what’s happening today. “These maps are an extreme scenario, and it would probably happen thousands of years in the future,” Linn says. “I think that the real damage comes long before this extreme final point.”

By 2100, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a sea level rise between 1.7 and 3.2 feet; other climate scientists say it might be as much as 4 feet, and nearly 10 feet by 2300. And while that’s not enough to drown Portland, it’s sufficient to devastate coastal cities.

“I hope that the dramatic nature of these maps, and sort of the humorous take on things might get into the minds of more people than might otherwise think about this,” Linn says.

So far, Linn has created maps for six cities, and is interested in going farther. “I’ve been thinking it would be really cool to do an atlas of cities worldwide,” he says.


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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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