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NASA's Interactive Flood Maps 90

First time accepted submitter jackandtoby writes "Whether you buy into global warming or not, you can have a go at being Charlton Heston and raise sea levels on a biblical scale thanks to NASA's online flood maps. Click away and cause your own Sim Flooding."
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NASA's Interactive Flood Maps

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  • Death Valley (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LasVeganLucy ( 2032428 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @12:54PM (#39838151)
    Somehow Death Valley, California seems to fill up with water with a slight rise in sea level.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Netherlands has a similar problem. I seems like the algorithm for this ignores the Netherlands Delta Works.

      • So you think manmade infrastructure could hold back world wide ocean flooding?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          1-2 meters worldwide, maybe not. 1-2 meters in an area where engineers need to improve an existing system, I'd give them a chance. They are already planning for it. Considering the map shows 1 meter as flooding the entire country, I doubt it factors in that some regions are already below sea level.

          I'm not talking about problems when there are natural disasters. Many regions around the world would have problems with natural disaster flooding even if the oceans receded several meters. The map implies th

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Grismar ( 840501 )

          Actually, the Dutch water defenses can take quite a bit and do so regularly when storm surges occur. Of course, when a storm surge would come on top of a sea level increase of 1m overall, that would cause flooding sooner, at least temporarily.

          However, this lame website simply colors every bit of land that just happens to be below the set level and ignores any defense that would keep the water out, even at the lower settings. It's utter bollocks and I'm betting it's only there to generate ad revenue. Oh /.,

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Immerman ( 2627577 )
            Right, the only reason not to factor in complex human factors into what is otherwise a simple elevation based color-by-number script is to generate ad revenue. And obviously the fact that there's a few spots where humans have built massive infrastructure to hold back the sea means that a map showing what would naturally be underwater with various changes in sea level is completely pointless. Good thing you're here to call them on it.
          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Defences to keep the water out, sounds nice but in reality when you are talking thousands of kilometres of coastline, it all becomes horrendously expensive, especially for countries that can't maintain their roads, footpaths and even bridges. So privatising the profits and socialising the losses yet again.

    • Click away and cause your own Sim Flooding

      I spent 5 minutes waiting for a monster to appear after my flood and rampage through the city.

    • That's a bug in how the simulator works. It simply paints all areas of the map at or below that elevation, so if you set it to 1m, it finds all areas below 1m above sea level and fills them in. This includes Death Valley, the Netherlands, the Caspian Sea, and many other locations. In reality these locations wouldn't flood like this (well... maybe the Netherlands, if it happened fast enough)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...spending their budget on this? This is NOAA's turf, not NASA's.

    • by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @01:43PM (#39838451) Homepage

      It was not actually done by NASA, and if it was, it would probably not have made a terribly big dent in their budget, seeing as how it was actually done by some guy just for fun.

      • I did this by hand last year using a Times atlas and calculating for 5m rise for Greenland, 10m rise for West Antarctica, and 50m rise for the meliting of East Antarctica. I discovered that my city, Sydney, would vanish under the waves and that my suburb would be at the water's edge at the end of a peninsula. I also discovered that the ocean would flood large areas of inland Australia and that Queensland would have a western coastline as well as a Pacific coastline.

        When I did the same test on this map, and

  • Maybe it's because i'm on a mobile device (Droid 3 with the included browser), but that site just seems like an ad filled annoying to use waste of bandwidth. After I changed the sea level once it wouldn't let me change it again, and somehow from the summary I imagined something that looked much cooler than google maps.

  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Sunday April 29, 2012 @01:05PM (#39838211)
    In Superman 1. I need to buy up all the real estate 20 miles inland and wait for Global warming to make me rich! Maybe I should set off some nukes at the north and south poles to help speed things up...
    • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @01:10PM (#39838237)

      In Superman 1. I need to buy up all the real estate 20 miles inland and wait for Global warming to make me rich! Maybe I should set off some nukes at the north and south poles to help speed things up...

      Forget that noise;
      1. Buy large oil company.
      2. Begin drilling wells off the coast of large city... at a 45 degree angle.
      3. Frack baby, frack!
      4. giant sinkhole swallows 20 miles of coastline.
      5. PROFIT!

      • Not to mention you make crazy profit selling the gas after you frack it out and before the real estate becomes valuable.... you know, that may well be the goal now that I think about it... :/ Seems like a win win for them!
      • "...Otisburg?"
      • by Turken ( 139591 )

        I like this idea! Especially since even the 60m increase isn't enough to really cleanse the US of all the east/west coast crap. At least it would do something about Florida (aka South New York).

        Of course, the problem with waiting on global warming to wash away the coastal stench is that it's still too slow of a process, and all the rats would just climb higher and infest the rest of the country. Fracking induced quakes though... gotta get working on that, pronto!

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @01:05PM (#39838215)
    Sweet - more ways to kill my Sims! Actually, no. This method is slower than that; I can simulate global warming now by just taking the ladder out of the pool. :D
  • by ATestR ( 1060586 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @01:10PM (#39838243) Homepage
    This darn thing only allows for a 60M rise. I want to try out 1000M and set sail in a Trimaran.
    • by jonadab ( 583620 )
      > This darn thing only allows for a 60M rise.

      They probably designed it to assume that all the water has to actually come from somewhere.

      There simply isn't anywhere enough water available to raise the ocean levels by the kilometer you propose, not by a long shot -- not with the ocean basins being anywhere near as deep as they currently are. If you want to make it that deep, you have to raise the ocean floor and/or lower the continental plates. But, of course, if you start changing that stuff, the simpli
      • Bah, just redirect a couple of comets. Large ones contain a couple hundred km^3 of water.

        • Bah, just redirect a couple of comets. Large ones contain a couple hundred km^3 of water.

          1000km^3 distributed on 335,258,000 km^2 raises the ocean by 3mm.

          • That's why you need "a couple" :)

          • by jonadab ( 583620 )
            3mm, huh? So a couple of comets could do 6mm, right? Is that enough to put Florida under water, or do we need three or four comets?

            (I jest. Florida isn't really the geographical area I'd most want to put under water. Unfortunately, California is too mountainous for it to be practical, and redirecting comets would be ridiculously expensive anyhow. We'll just have to wait for the San Andreas fault to do its thing.)
    • What no negative? I wanted to see what it would look like with sea levels lower.
    • Here you go. Flood map near K2, China at 2 km sea level rise [scalgo.com].
    • by jonadab ( 583620 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @02:09PM (#39838583) Homepage Journal
      Also, 1000 meters of ocean level rise wouldn't really be enough to give you a Waterworld scenario. It would be a global catastrophy, certainly, but there would still be quite a bit of dry land -- in large continuous strips, some which would extend for more than a quarter of the earth's circumference in length. Dry land would certainly not be so difficult to locate as to approach mythical status. A lot of Asia would still be above water (not just the Himalayas, either), plus a good portion of Africa, a sizable chunk of North America (just for example, Denver would still be more than half a kilometer above the new elevated ocean level), a long strip of South America running from Columbia all the way to Tiera Del Fuego, and quite a bit of Antarctica (yes, even with all the ice melted off), as well as various mountains and islands scatter around every geopolitical region in the world.
    • by boaworm ( 180781 )

      Even 60 meters got the best of Denmark! :)

  • by cirby ( 2599 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @01:12PM (#39838267)

    The map has a lot of different levels for ocean rise, but they don't show the 0.3 meter "most probable" one from the current IPCC report.

    The closest they have is one meter - three times the predicted level - and it doesn't seem to do much of anything - just a few inland lakes that magically rise in levels, even though they aren't connected to the sea.

    Oh, well, I guess they'll fix that in version 2.0. Right?

    • Also I think their DEM is not very precise... looking at 6m I can see the neck of Gabriola sands park of Gabriola Island still exposed but that neck is only about 3m above the high tide line now.

    • by Goaway ( 82658 )

      That rise isn't going to stop at 0.3 meters.

    • by ankhank ( 756164 ) *

      The "current IPCC report" 2007 (Fourth) explicitly did not consider sea level rise and gave _lower_ numbers than the Third
      http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ar5/ar5-leaflet.pdf [www.ipcc.ch]
      "due in 2014, will provide an update"
      What do we know better now?
      Example: See the illustrations at: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/rosenzweig_03/ [nasa.gov]

      • Exactly. When the next AR comes out, I can already hear the deniers: "Bah, they never mentioned much sea level rise before - why now? They clearly don't know what they're talking about! All the climatologists must have bought real estate a couple hundred feet inland! They're all evil, I tell ya! Probably paid off by Al Gore too!"

      • The "current IPCC report" 2007 (Fourth) explicitly did not consider sea level rise and gave _lower_ numbers than the Third

        If the AR4 report didn't consider sea level rise, how did it give any numbers at all, let alone lower numbers?

        I think what you meant to say is that it didn't explicitly consider sea level rise from fast ice sheet dynamics. It did consider thermometric sea level rise, as well as sea level rise from glaciers and some estimates of "slow" ice sheet dynamics.

    • Current estimates for sea level rise by 2100 are in the 1-2 meter range. These were made after the IPCC AR4 was issued.

    • The IPCC projection does not take calving (in other words, glaciers gliding off into the sea as opposed to just melting) into account. It is thus a superconservative estimate. Observed sea level rise is already above it.

      Of course, this map would be boring without the option to enter really spectacular numbers. 1m sea level rise may mean millions are displaced or die, but it doesn't look very impressive on a map.

  • along with bangladesh. and well, other areas are not that bad off. if the change wasn't rapid the 60m doesn't look like end of the world on global scale, even if it was rapid not the end of the world.

    and hey, lot's of stuff for coral to grow on.

    • Those places would actually be fucked with 0m sea level rise if it weren't for the levee system. The map isn't really accurate for those places, as it assumes that all levees and dikes will be breached with a +1 meter sea level rise, which may not be necessarily true.
    • Except that the coral will all be dead from ocean acidification.

  • I guess this could be useful to determine the level of risk one incurs when buying property at a given location. I say "guess", because the site is slashdotted and I have no first-hand experience of how it works and what level of detail it gives.

  • Not NASA (Score:5, Informative)

    by ripler ( 19188 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @01:16PM (#39838287)

    As far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with NASA. It looks like a ploy to get better search rankings for firetree.net.

    something something slashdot editors something.

  • by mongoose(!no) ( 719125 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @01:18PM (#39838303)
    It's based on their DEM (digital elevation model) dataset, specifically the Shuttle Radar Terrain Mapping project, but I doubt that they had anything to do with this. There's also an ad at the bottom for flood insurance. It also looks like the guy just went through and generated a blue overlay for land lower than the sea level rise you select, which wouldn't include any backwater effects from going up rivers. He's got a website about what he did here: http://blog.firetree.net/2006/05/18/more-about-flood-maps/ [firetree.net]
    • by dnwq ( 910646 )
      Hmm. That explains why it shows the Volga delta as massively flooded at +1m. In actuality the Caspian is -27m right now already, so of course +28m would be catastrophic.
  • by eggstasy ( 458692 ) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @01:28PM (#39838357) Journal

    This website is 5 years old and has been covered on Slashdot before. It has nothing to do with NASA.
    Altitude information was alledgedly taken from NASA, but you could well have done it with Google Maps API.
    Or simply by superimposing a transparent blue layer on Google Earth at the altitude(s) of your choice.

  • What's scary is that there are probably political analysts looking at the impact of higher sea levels on voting patterns, to see whether it would favor one political party or another and at what level. I just hope they're accounting for the fact that all those coastal lib'ruls whose homes would be flooded would simply move inland rather than disappearing into the sea.

  • Why is NASA poking it's nose into this? Does this has anything to do with Aeronautics or Space? Maybe if NASA was more restrictive about mission creep we wouldn't be hitch-hiking into space with the Russians. At best NASA should be acting as a contractor launching a satellite or two for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If they have enough resources to bully their way into other Agencies areas of responsibility, maybe they have too many.

  • The map is wildly inaccurate. Look at this gravel pit [firetree.net] near Petersburg, VA: Because the pit is close to sea level, the map claims it will be flooded at a 2 m sea level rise. In reality, it would probably take a 60 m sea level rise for it to flood because of the height of the surrounding terrain.

    It looks like NASA just did a plane intersection with the terrain. If the height above sea level at this point is lower than a threshold, then they claim it will be flooded when the sea rises to this threshold. Th

    • As others have said NASA didn't make this.
      And I don't think anyone is saying this is anything but a fun hacking project this guy tried. No organization respectable or otherwise is supporting this.

      Its a cool idea as a hacking project but its not going to get much treatment for being that in such a charged topic as climate change.

      Its much safer to post a video of baby rape on slashdot :)

    • Others have made this point. I think they glossed over the concept of a water table. However, they didn't live on River Road
  • Okay, so in addition to this not involving NASA and the data being 5 years old, the biblical references are wrong too. Heston played Moses, who parted the Red Sea. "raise sea levels on a biblical scale" would refer to the great flood, and that involved Noah (and even then he didn't cause the flood). So I have no idea what Charlton Heston has to do with this in even the most convoluted possible way.

  • Fun to play with. Guess we can still make Puerto Rico a state.
  • 2 meters puts floods on the National Mall!

    Of course, that would take an awful lot of ice melting. There's only enough ice on Greenland to raise sea levels 7 meters and only enough on Antarctica to raise it 123 meters. Holy crap!

    But the latter isn't likely to happen -- not totally anyway. Greenland is within the realm of reasonably likely this could happen in the next century.

    • Except that sea level rise is mostly due to thermal expansion of water, not ice melt.

      • That's what doesn't make sense to me. The current mean temperature of the ocean is about 4C, according to this source [tamu.edu]. And at 4C, the CTE is zero.

        But I have a hard time squaring that with this graph [tamu.edu]

        The graph makes it look like most of the Earth's oceans have surface temperatures significantly higher. Maybe the penetration that warmth to lower levels isn't very great?

        • Actually I was wrong. I just read up a little more and today it's between 50/50 and 1/3rd thermal expansion and 2/3rds ice melt, depending on the source.
          But yeah, the water temperature has a very clear gradient. It is up to 30s near the equator at the surface and slightly below zero at the bottom since the bottom water comes from the highly saline water that remains when ice freezes out at the surface. That cold dense saline water is what drives the global circulation. So some has a small expansion coeffici

          • Yeah, I find the calculus particularly hard without knowing the global distribution of water temperature and depth in every cubic meter of ocean.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder what elevation data NASA is using? I work with the Lidar derived elevation data in NC every day and in the mainland behind the Outer Banks. When I crank sea level flooding up to 1m, Most of Alligator River refuge is under water. You have to crank it up to 7M on the NASA site to get the same effect... Methinks they have some data issues.

  • Basically, if the caps melt and your get 60m flooding, the tropical and temperate zones are unihabitable, not just from the heat, but the humidity and wet bulb issues. So, everyone will move north or to antarctica, and what are the two parts of the world missing? Antarctica and the arctic. nice. so basically, everywhere no one is goign to live we can see, but the areas we are goign to move to, we have no mapping. Brilliant.
  • More water in the Salton Sea at +7M you could argue. Where would the water come from to accumulate in Death Valley??

  • ...is only 26m AMSL, so say the yardsticks every half mile sticking out of the Trent. The map doesn't blue out until 40m. I call shenanigans.

  • ... Kevin Costner when we really need him?

  • Had the height set to 60m. west coast of the US only loses a bit. Most of Florida is gone and maybe a few miles in on the eastern seaboard. I was thinking 60m would be like 30% of land lost.
  • Now that is such...

  • What would have made this really interesting is to see population densities with an estimate of how many people would actually be displaced at the different levels. Because really, who cares if land that no one lived on anyway is now under 2 feet of water? I vaguely remember that project floating around out there too, but my curiosity isn't sufficient to chase it down.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.