This App Shows What Sea Level Rise Will Do

The homescreen of After Ice, an app that uses augmented reality to show users what sea level rise will look like in New York.

The oceans are rising and already creating problems from Boston to Miami. But the true scope of what the world is in for is hard to imagine.

Standing on dry land today and knowing that it will be underwater by 2100 is understandable in some abstract way, but abstractions don’t exactly move people to undertake action, let alone at the scale needed to address climate change.

Justin Brice Guariglia, a Brooklyn-based artist, wants to change that.

“We’re experiencing something so slow we can’t see it, but so quickly that we can’t ignore it,” he said.

That’s why he released a free iPhone app on Thursday called After Ice. It uses NASA sea level data, geolocation and augmented reality to put users “underwater” in New York. Consider it climate communication in the selfie age.

Fire up the app and you’re immediately confronted with collapsing ice to set the scene. It’s that ice, melting at unprecedented rates in human history, along with the expansion of ocean water due to rising temperatures that’s the root of sea level rise.

Oceans have risen about a foot since measurements began more than a century ago. But they’ll rise much more than that in the coming decades as ice melts and waters continue to warm.

The author in silohuette after ice sheets have melted and raised sea levels 137 feet.

After Ice transports you to a future New York inundated by higher seas. To try it out, I took it for a spin in Morningside Heights. As the name belies, it’s one of the higher neighborhoods in Manhattan, sitting about 135 feet above sea level.

Oceans are not going to rise that high in the next few decades, or even by 2100. But the app uses data from the New York…

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