What could happen to Washington, DC if the worst climate change predictions come true

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President Donald Trump announces his decision in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.
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REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Donald Trump has announced he intends to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal, following through with a key campaign promise.

The news comes at a time when climate scientists are fearing the worst.

In January, a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency hinted at the possibility of an “extreme” sea-level rise that would put some American landmarks, towns, and cities underwater during this century. That scenario is considered unlikely, but possible.

Research and advocacy group Climate Central took the projections laid out in NOAA’s report and created a plugin for Google Earth that shows how catastrophic the damage would be if the flooding happened today. You can install it (directions here) and see anywhere in the US.

We surveyed Washington, DC, to see what might happen in the president’s backyard.


In a worst case scenario, flooding — caused by polar melting and ice-sheet collapses — could cause a sea level rise of 10 to 12 feet by 2100.

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NASA

Here’s Washington, DC, today. The famed Potomac River runs through it.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

And here’s what Washington, DC, might look like in the year 2100 — as seen on Climate Central’s plugin for Google Earth. Ocean water causes the river to overflow.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

Let’s take a look at some of the famed landmarks in our nation’s capital.


The National Mall drew “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration,” at Trump’s swearing-in, according to Press Secretary Sean Spicer. It sits at the foot of the US Capitol.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

Future inaugurations wouldn’t quite be the same.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

President Trump delivered his address on withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, which 195 countries signed in December 2015, from the Rose Garden at the White House.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

In 2100, the White House could have an oceanfront view.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

More than four million people visit the National World War II Memorial annually.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

The memorial would be completely underwater after devastating flooding.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

Americans could say goodbye to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

The US Capitol and the Supreme Court would barely go unscathed.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

The nearby US Botanic Garden, home of about 65,000 plants, would also be a goner.


Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport sits three miles south of downtown Washington, DC. Planes take off and land over the Potomac River.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

The tarmac would be washed away by flooding.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

Here’s Palm Beach, Florida, where Trump has spent more than a quarter of his early presidency.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

Source: Business Insider


He owns the Mar-a-Lago luxury resort and club, better known as the “Winter White House.”

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Google Earth/Climate Central

If sea levels rose by as much as 12 feet, the Mar-a-Lago estate would not fare well.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

But Trump will be out of office long by the time anything like that happens.

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Google Earth/Climate Central