The Lagoon is an animation by artist Felicity Hammond that visualises the important data surrounding the relationship between global warming and rising sea levels.
Sea levels have been rising at an accelerated rate: the global mean sea level for 2018 was around 3.7 mm higher than in 2017 and the highest on record. Over the period January 1993 to December 2018, the average rate of rise was 3.15 ± 0.3 mm yr, while the estimated acceleration was 0.1 mm yr. The Greenland ice sheet has been losing ice mass nearly every year over the past two decades. Despite cool and snowy summer conditions, three surface melt events occurred in July and August 2017, with more than 30% of the ice sheet surface experiencing melting during each event. A recent study also examined ice cores taken from Greenland, which captured melting events back to the mid-1500s. The study determined that the recent level of melt events across the Greenland ice sheet have not occurred in at least the past 500 years.
This alarming data points to potential devastation. If the rate of ocean rise continues to change at this pace, sea levels will rise 26 inches (65 cm) by 2100 - enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities. To highlight the urgency of this data, The Lagoon depicts a fictional yet familiar city slowly submerging in water over a period of the next 80 years. A recently deserted café, abandoned apartments and the piling up of rubbish all point to a collapse in the infrastructures on which we rely.
Constructing an image using photographs from the here and now helps to place this devastation within our life-time, highlighting the importance of dealing with these issues now, before it is too late.
* Data sourced from the WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2018.