California stands as a realm where dreams come to life. However, amid its dreamlike landscape, the state contends with the imminent threats of wildfires, droughts, and the unpredictable forces of nature.
The specter of floods and the gradual retreat of glaciers contribute to an already complex scenario. Given the current environmental challenges, envisioning the future appearance of the Golden State in the event of complete ice melt becomes a compelling exercise.
The state’s lowest point, at -282 feet, places certain regions of California in the path of an unavoidable peril.
Let’s begin with the chilly challenge in the Western hemisphere.
Antarctica is undergoing notable changes. The Thwaites Glacier, equivalent to the size of Florida, is gradually fracturing due to increasing water temperatures. The melting ice caps jeopardize the current safety of elevations worldwide. If the temperature ascent persists at its current rate, the Thwaites Glacier could release enough ice caps to elevate global sea levels by an additional 10 feet.
A potential 10-foot surge in sea levels would lead to substantial flooding, engulfing parts of Los Angeles, including areas in Santa Monica and Long Beach.
Numerous other regions along California’s affluent coastline are also under imminent threat. Cities such as San Francisco, San Rafael, Richmond, Oakland, and Sacramento would encounter significant economic challenges in their efforts to remain above water.
This scenario would give rise to a harsh reality for Californians, featuring forced migrations and climate refugees urgently seeking shelter as part of their everyday lives.
What if the entire global ice melts?
Antarctica and Greenland together encompass more than 6 million square miles of ice contained within ice sheets and glaciers, an area nearly equivalent to the size of Russia, the largest country on Earth. Additionally, the planet hosts various other glaciers, contributing to a total of approximately 12.5% of the Earth’s land covered by ice.
What would happen if all that ice melts?
Firstly, it’s important to dispel the notion that glaciers and ice sheets are akin to the ice cubes in your beverage, as clarified by NASA. Unlike the ice in your drink, which merely displaces water without affecting liquid elevation in your glass, melting glaciers resemble forcefully adding ice to an already brimming glass of water – resulting in overflow.
Now, setting that distinction aside, consider the potential consequences. Should all the ice on Earth melt, estimates from National Geographics suggest a staggering additional rise of 216 feet in sea levels.
Let’s envision the impact on California in such a scenario. The current satellite image on the left depicts the state as it stands today, with sea levels comfortably below the land.
In contrast, the image on the right illustrates the same geographical locations, but with a significant rise of 200 feet in sea levels. The transformation prompts contemplation on the dramatic alterations to California’s coastal landscape.