2011-11-28

Rising Water: An Interactive Map Of Where Not To Buy A Beach House

New data from the British government illustrates the incredible rise of ocean levels around the world, and lets you see if you need to find a new island nation for your retirement plans.

If you have oceanfront property in Fiji, you may want to look into a robust insurance policy. That’s just one of the areas that’s seen a rapid rise in sea levels recently, according to a new interactive map.

The new Anomalies Map, released by the U.K.’s Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level, lets you compare sea level measurements in a given year to their historical average, calculated from 1960 to 1990. You pick a year with the slider along the bottom of the map and then see how the colored dots that represent global tide gauges change. Red dots mean sea levels were higher than average that year; blue dots mean lower.

The world’s water levels in 1977.

If you drop the slider at 1977, for example, you get a lot of light blue and yellow dots. As you’d expect, sea levels in 1977 weren’t too different from their 1960-to-1990 average. But as you pull the slider closer to 2009, more and more red spots pop up around Southeast Asia, Western Europe, and North America’s Atlantic coast.

There are some places on the map where relative sea levels actually fall in recent years. This is the case, for example, in parts of Scandinavia. But that’s only because the land is rising there.

In 1990, you see a lot more high water. Don’t buy a beach house in Northern Russia.

The PSMSL also has a Google maps tool that lets you zoom in and look at long-term sea level trends in particular parts of the world.

These two online maps just confirm what science has already been telling us. Since the 19th century, the sea level has risen by more than 2 millimeters per year, but that rate is accelerating. According to some current predictions, we could see sea levels rise by as much as a meter by 2100. And that’s actually not just a problem for people with beach houses, because a lot of have people have beach houses without knowing it. Most people in New York City, for instance. The more you know…

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