Los Angeles, a vibrant metropolis situated in Southern California, is renowned for its entertainment industry, cultural diversity, and perennial sunshine. It stands as the second most populous city and metropolitan area in the United States, home to approximately 3.9 million residents within the city and a staggering 13.2 million in the surrounding metropolitan region. But what if the entirety of Earth’s ice were to melt? Let’s explore the potential repercussions of such a scenario.
The Impact of Melting Ice on Global Sea Levels
As per the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global sea levels have experienced an increase of about 0.2 meters (equivalent to 8 inches) from 1901 to 2018. This rise can be attributed primarily to the thermal expansion of seawater and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. The IPCC projects that sea levels will continue to ascend in the 21st century and beyond, contingent on future greenhouse gas emissions and the Earth system’s response to these changes.
The IPCC’s estimations indicate that if all of Earth’s ice were to melt, the global average sea level would surge by approximately 66 meters (equivalent to 216 feet). Such an escalation would submerge numerous coastal regions and islands worldwide, leading to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people and causing widespread economic and environmental devastation.
Implications of Rising Sea Levels on Los Angeles
Los Angeles, nestled along the Pacific coastline, boasts an average elevation of around 90 meters (approximately 300 feet) above sea level. Nevertheless, certain portions of the city are considerably lower and more susceptible to sea level increases, including the coastal neighborhoods of Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, and Long Beach.
To gain insight into the potential transformation of Los Angeles in a world where all ice on Earth has melted, we can utilize the NASA Sea Level Projection Tool. This tool enables us to manipulate maps and data to explore various scenarios and locations.
Under this scenario, a significant portion of Los Angeles, including iconic landmarks like the Hollywood sign, the Griffith Observatory, the Getty Center, and the Los Angeles International Airport, would be submerged. The downtown area, alongside numerous inland suburbs and valleys, would also succumb to flooding. Only the highest peaks and ridges, such as the San Gabriel Mountains, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the Santa Susana Mountains, would remain above the waterline.
According to the tool’s projections, the sea level rise would impact approximately 8.6 million residents in Los Angeles County, representing over half of the current population. The land area lost would amount to approximately 3,700 square kilometers (equivalent to 1,400 square miles), encompassing about 40% of the current land area. The economic toll would be staggering, considering that Los Angeles ranks among the world’s largest and wealthiest cities, boasting a gross domestic product of roughly $1.1 trillion in 2020.
The consequences of a global ice melt scenario would be dire for Los Angeles, leading to the loss of a significant portion of its land, population, and economic activity due to rising sea levels. The city would transform into a cluster of islands surrounded by water, with only a few elevated areas remaining intact. The repercussions of such sea level increases on Los Angeles would extend far beyond the city itself, affecting the region, the nation, and the global community. It is, therefore, imperative to take swift action to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change before it’s too late.