What Would Happen if All the Ice on Earth Melted?

Sea level rise is a significant consequence of global warming.  It poses serious problems for coastal communities around the world.

According to the IPCC, average global sea level has risen 7.5 inches since 1901.  While that may not seem like a lot, every inch counts when a storm surge rushes inland – as we recently saw with Sandy and Haiyan.  As our atmosphere continues to warm, land-based ice, like glaciers and ice sheets, are expected to continue to melt and push sea levels even higher.

Exploring this idea, National Geographic recently published a series of artist renderings that depict what the world map would look like if all the ice on the planet – approximately five million cubic miles – melted.  Producing a sea level rise of 216 feet above current levels, entire cities would be submerged and the familiar outline of the continents would be irreparably altered.

While this dire situation is not expected to happen anytime soon, these images offer an incredible visualization of what could ultimately happen to our coastlines if the atmosphere and oceans continue to warm unabated.