What Does Two Degrees Global Warming Look Like In Copenhagen?

Two degrees Celsius of global warming is the target for COP21 negotiations in Paris. But even this could lead to sea-level rise as high as four metres.

Video: Catherine Jex / ScienceNordic

Date Completed: 2015

The Brief: Create a fly over view of future sea level rise in Copenhagen as a result of two degrees rise in global temperatures.

Key Features: Google Earth Pro . IMovie

Client: ScienceNordic . Videnskab.dk

Media Type: Online news . Magazine . Video

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This video accompanied one of my own articles for ScienceNordic and Videnskab.dk, reporting on the anticipated Paris Climate Agreement during the COP21, in 2015.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably to 1.5 degrees. But even this amount of warming will effectively lock in a set amount of sea-level rise, which might not be fully released for some time yet.

The video presents a fly over of Copenhagen to see how the city might look once the full amount of sea-level rise locked in by a 2 degrees rise in global temperature. The sea-level rise data were produced as part of the Climate Central Surging Seas project, and build upon peer-reviewed research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The article emphasises that the video does not depict how the city might look in any particular timeframe, and that it could take 100 years or more for sea level to rise to the extent depicted. But it is a sobering visualisation. The decisions we make in the next few years will have predictable and understandable consequences for future generations. The current pledges made by nations following the Paris Climate Agreement are, at the time of writing (April 2019), insufficient to meet the Paris goals. In fact, they are more likely to lead to +3 degrees Celsius temperature rise by the end of the century. To be blunt, future generations are watching and no one can say that we didn’t know what we were doing – scientists have been ringing the alarm for decades.

The video was prepared in iMovie, using a flyover recorded in Google Earth Pro, with KML layers from Climate Central’s Surging Seas mapping project.

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