Seattle is the new San Juans

Not yet, mind you. But in 5,000 years, potentially, if the ice caps melt, the hilly confines of Greater Seattle may look something like this:

Seattle rendered as islands after a 240 foot rise in sea level

The Islands of Seattle (Image by Jeffrey Linn)

Such is the projection of Jeffrey Linn, an urban planner at the University of Washington. Inspired by a similar map of San Francisco (or, um, The City That Must Not Be Named, what with tomorrow’s championship game on the line–be warned, San Francisco Archipelegans, the mighty Vancouver Island-Cascadia Alliance is about to bring it. Go Hawks!), Linn took real-world LiDAR elevation information and crossed it with a 240-foot rise in sea level rendered in ten foot increments.

The strangely picturesque island chain above is the result.

As might be expected, most existing marinas, at or near sea-level by definition, disappear. Even those on the inland lakes, higher than their Puget Sound counterparts, will be mostly submerged. So you’ll be looking for new moorage.

But change is not without opportunity. I foresee a large and modern new combined marina in the vast and well-protected Green Lagoon, convenient to both the new inland Washington Sound and the larger expanse of Puget Sound via the Bay of Ballard. The hyper-toilets will be clean and presentable, but you may find the 500 renminbi cost for a two-minute sonic shower to be excessive.

I imagine the crabbing will be good around Mercer Island, with all the fancy submerged kitchens the cast of crabs will have to pick through. You might have to fight for the last mooring ball at the state Marine Park at Roanoke Island, though, because there are no easy anchorages.

In fact, anchoring spots throughout the islands might be a little fraught, at least for the first hundred years or so, and longer than that in areas where concrete structures prevailed during the Dark Ages. Fouling an anchor in a chimney or bike rack is not likely to be a pleasant experience … although, if we’re assuming it’s warm enough that the ice caps have melted, it seems a fair bet that skin-diving in the Salish Sea will be a much more pleasant prospect than it is today.

Navigation could be a little dicey as well, particularly if the magnetic pole has flipped, as some theories hold could happen in the future. I don’t even want to think about what sort of swinging my fluxgate compass will require to deal with that particular anomaly.

From a personal perspective, the bad news is that my current moorage on Lake Union won’t be attached to anything resembling a shoreline at that point. But that’s okay, because the good news is that my property on the Admiral Peninsula will be waterfront and I should be able to get a mooring ball installed, assuming that the Department of Natural Resources has become completely submerged down in Olympia.

Watching the sun rise over my sailboat with the Cascades rising as a backdrop might be enough to make all the disruption worthwhile.


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