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January 16, 2014 at 4:53 PM

If all ice sheets melted, would your neighborhood be under water?

Jeff Linn's "Islands of Seattle" map

Jeff Linn’s “Islands of Seattle” map (Click to enlarge)

If you’ve ever wondered how your house or apartment would fare if the Earth was immediately and improbably inundated by the simultaneous melting of all the world’s ice sheets, Jeff Linn has an answer for you.

The University of Washington planner has created a map showing what Seattle would look like if the sea level rose by 240 feet — the estimated amount it would rise if all the world’s ice sheets melted.

A rise in the sea level of that magnitude swamps downtown Seattle, causes South Lake Union to disappear and obliterates most of the University of Washington.  Many neighborhoods become islands, and Lake Washington turns into a Sound to rival Puget.

Linn’s own Seattle house survives, but just barely: “I would be a few blocks from beachfront property,” he said.

Playfully, Linn has renamed all the land and water features on his map: the Isle of Clyde, Wedgwood Peninsula, the Bay of Ballard, Phinney Peninsula, Archipelago of Bainbridge, Meridian Island.

Linn, who works in the Office of the University Architect, did the map on his own time, and was inspired by the San Francisco blogger Burrito Justice, who posted a similarly provocative map of what San Francisco would look like if the sea level rose by 240 feet.

“It was meant as a playful piece,” he said, “but I think there’s definitely a warning here for people as to what could actually happen to the city … I do think there’s definitely a lot of damage, a lot of impact costs to climate change.”

Linn created the map about a month ago using freely-available 3D digital map files, “and posted it to my two dozen Twitter followers without a reaction,” he said. Then somebody in the university administration suggested posting it on a new UW website, The Whole U,  which was created to celebrate faculty and staff achievements and promote personal interests. Now, the map’s getting lots of attention on Twitter and online.

“This is new ground for me, being the creator of a regionally viral sensation,” he said.

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