Sea Level Rise

a website prototype mapping the predicted sea level rise
in the next 100 years


  • concept and design Tina Serowski and Dimitar Ruszev
  • 2013


About the project

Most environmental topics are subject to a hefty discussion – there is a lot of uncertainty, not only about the outcome of climate change but also about natural phenomena being observed. This is the reflection of the fact that the planet Earth is a complex ecosystem, whose principles are yet to be revealed. On the other hand, this scientific discovery takes place in the not less complicated »knowledge negotiation« in society.

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A lot of people (our prior selves included) don't know that the "mean" sea level varies from place to place, furthermore its rise will be everything but uniform. To understand this, we take account of the most important natural phenomena causing the mean sea level to rise. The illustrative melting of the polar ice caps is only the »tip of the iceberg«. The study of past trends in the eustatic (mean) sea level also helps us (without explicitly knowing the reasons) to forecast future SLR.


In order to reach a scientific statement, the above factors must be interpreted. There are more than a hundred different research approaches and therefore just as many results / forecasts. To show this theoretical diversity, we chose three representative research frameworks.

Case Studies

One of our conceptual goals is to draw the attention to the regional differences in the effects of SLR. That's why we try to visualize case studies from six different SLR-affected regions in order to show the broad spectrum of risks. The vulnerability of each country depends not only on environmental circumstances, but also on a range of socio-economical factors.

From a temporal point of view, there are two groups of effects caused by sea level rise short-term and long-term effects. The situation of each country, as well as the possible threats, are visualized on the map.

Risk Indicators

In addition to the above qualitative approach, limited to a chosen set of locations, we incorporated an existing assessment of SLR outlooks. In this module, each maritime country can be characterized by half a dozen numerical values.

The Map

The product consists of a geographical map as a backdrop. On our map the ocean is the key visual motive. On the land, population and political borders are represented. We plan to incorporate the so-called LECZ (low elevation coastal zone) outline.


The above topics are accessible via a classical menu system but also partly via certain interactive points on the map. In the case of Effects, some of the items are visualized directly on the map. In the case of SLR trends, a new overlay for the world ocean can be activated. The resulting heat map shows the regions which are especially threatened by SLR even in the case of a moderate overall trend.

When selecting a case study (either through the menu or by clicking on a marker on the map), the map focuses on the region in question. At this zoom level one will find not only a more detailed information layer for these countries, but also the textual study itself in a separate overlay. All the other affected countries are also clickable – this action shows their risk index. Selecting two of them will show a comparison of their respective risk indicators. Those values are presented in a double manner: the absolute value is superimposed on the relative one. We chose this method as we did not want the viewer to underestimate the dramatic effects of small countries (absolute value is low, relative high) or marginal effects of big countries (relative value low, absolute high). On the bottom quarter of the screen a diagram can be summoned, which shows the risk index for all countries.



This project was developed in the Map Interfaces course at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences under supervision of Marcus Paeschke and Sebastian Meier.

We have made some screen design concepts and base map designs but the texts, infographics and the website itself are to be done.

We used MapBox Tile Mill to draw the base map and the library package OSGeo4W for the preparation of some map layers.

Research was done online, resources will be noted if the project goes online.