11 Climate Central’s Surging Seas: Risk Zone Map

Michael Long

About Climate Central’s Surging Seas: Risk Zone Map

Surging Seas: Risk Zone Map is an interactive program by Climate Central (CC) which is an independent climate change research and communication organization that analyzes and shares facts about climate change with the public and policymakers in easily accessible ways. It does so by amalgamating science, data, and technology to tell stories through capturing visuals about climate change, sea-level rise, extreme weather, and energy. CC’s Sea-Level Rise program provides current and projected data on sea-level rise and coastal flood hazards, across the globe, through user-friendly maps and tools.

The Surging Seas: Risk Zone Map series, in particular, were the first interactive online maps presenting sea-level and coastal flooding information, backed by peer-reviewed science, and the most recent iteration was featured by the White House Climate Data Initiative.



In 1938, British scientist, Guy Stewart Callendar, argued that the link between rising Carbon Dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the Atmosphere and a rise in global temperature would have other subsequent and varying changes on the Earth’s climate patterns. Now, the vast majority of climate scientists (95-98%) know that recent climate changes are due to the burning of coal, oil and gas.

The effects include changes to existing weather events such as  hurricanes, floods, droughts, wildfires, and more. However, in this activity, we will focus on the effects of climate change on the world’s oceans because they cover 70% of the Earth which means they take the large brunt of the change. In short, sea-level rise is an increase in the level of the planet’s oceans because of global warming which contributes to a) added ocean water from melting glaciers and ice sheets, and b) the expansion of warming seawater. As the temperature of the atmosphere rises due to the burning of fossil fuels and the release of excess greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) the oceans absorb this heat which causes the water molecules to expand.

Moreover, as the atmospheric temperature rises, land-ice (such as in Greenland and Antarctica) is also affected and melts into the oceans at an accelerated rate, which contributes to the amount of seawater. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the global mean sea-level rise has been approximately 8-9 inches since 1880. It is projected that sea levels are likely to rise even more in response to historic greenhouse gas emissions, which threatens low-lying island nations, global coastlines, freshwater supplies, and wildlife habitats from increased storm surges, flooding and damage to coastal areas. 

Video Essays

Please watch the following Video Essays:

‘This is what Sea Level Rise will do to Coastal Cities,’ by The Verge Science (7 minutes)

‘6 Major US cities could be underwater within 80 years — here are the disturbing ‘after’ images’ by Business Insider (3 minutes)

Interactive Map


1) Open Climate Central’s Surging Seas: Risk Zone Map .

2) Click the ‘-’ minus button on the bottom-right of the screen to scroll outward and see more of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

3) Click the double-arrow beside ‘Water Level’ on the bottom-left of the screen, then click ‘Show Current Coast’.

4) Click the double-arrow again, and scroll through the various levels of sea rise (1 to 10 in feet) to learn how Vancouver may be impacted.

5) Use the search bar on the top-right of the screen to learn about sea level rise in locations of your choosing. 

Supplemental Resources

Read, watch and listen to the following material: 

Guiding Questions

  1. Can you define Global Warming?
  2. What is the connection between the Greenhouse Gas Effect and Global Warming?
  3. Can you define Climate Change?
  4. What is the difference between Climate Change and Global Warming?
  5. Can you describe how Climate Change leads to Sea Level Rise?
  6. How much Sea Level Rise has occurred and is projected to occur?
  7. What are and will be the impacts of Sea Level Rise on people and health, infrastructure and economies, coastlines and environment, and weather events?



Climate Central. (2021). Surging Seas Risk Zone Map.
https://ss2.climatecentral.org/#12/40.7297/-74.0072?show=satellite&projections=0-K14_RCP85-SLR&level=5&unit=feet&pois=hide. Accessed November, 2023.

Long, M. J. (2022). Geomedia as a Pedagogical Tool: Toward Sustainability Competence. In The Emerging Role of Geomedia in the Environmental Humanities. Edited by Terry, Mark Ph.D. and Michael Hewson, Ph.D., Rowman and Littlefield. https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781666913422/The-Emerging-Role-of-Geomedia-in-the-Environmental-Humanities  

Geo-media: General Description. (2021). Motivate and Attract Students to Science. MASS. http://www.mass4education.eu/geo-media. Accessed November, 2021.

Terry, M. (2020). The Geo-Doc: Geomedia, Documentary Film, and Social Change. Palgrave Macmillan.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Engaging STEM: A Guide to Interactive Resources Copyright © 2021 by Michael Long is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book