When all the ice melts

Pan fydd yr holl iâ’n toddi, bydd y môr yn cyrraedd fan hyn
When all the ice melts, the sea will be up to here

When all the ice on earth melts, the average level of the sea will be around 200 feet higher than it is now.

It will take thousands of years for the sea to deepen by 200 feet (which it will if the Earth’s temperature continues to increase). About five thousand years seems to be the timescale.

Five thousand years, you say? Way too big a stretch of time to think about. But there were people like you and me living five thousand years ago, with writing and money and organised religion and civil engineering and agriculture and  beautiful art.

Think of a 200-foot depth of water inching its way upwards, slowly, deepening relentlessly. I live beside the sea, and this is what I’ve been thinking about recently. Indeed, I live next to a large swathe of low-lying land that was sea 220 years ago.

In autumn 2021, I started cycling and walking to points near me where roads and public rights of way cross the 200-foot contour, and pinning up a PostIt note saying:

Pan fydd yr holl iâ’n toddi, bydd y môr yn cyrraedd fan hyn.
When all the ice melts, the sea will be up to here.

This is a useful interactive map to look at the result of different heights of sea level rise. For +200 feet, use a rise of 61 metres. And this article looks at ways of adapting to rising sea levels, with suggested further reading.

As at March 2022, both the Arctic and Antarctic are vastly warmer than they should be for the time of year, and in the Antarctic the 1,200 square kilometre Conger ice shelf has collapsed.

It turns out the same impetus that sends me out with PostIt notes and drawing pins has stimulated other pieces of art – on much grander scales. There is this one, in Còmhghall in Scotland, so I guess I should also say:

Nuair a leagh an deigh uile, bidh uisge na mara suas chun na h-àirde seo.

And there is also this one, The (Future) Wales Coast Path, which is taking place in Newport and Magor in South Wales throughout 2022.

All the photos below were taken in North Wales, grouped by the watercourse that would grow deeper with a rising sea level.

Afon Dwyfor

Field drains, un-named on OS maps

Nant y Wyddan and Ffrwd y Brain

Nant yr Afon-oer

Afon Glaslyn – tidal, up to Pont Croesor

Afon Rhyd

Afon Glaslyn– inland from Pont Croesor

Nanmor

Afon Dwyryd – tidal, up to Pont Maentwrog

Afon Prysor

Afon Dwyryd – inland from Pont Maentwrog

Afon Teigl

In each of these photos there’s a PostIt note pinned to something, saying the same thing:

Pan fydd yr holl iâ’n toddi, bydd y môr yn cyrraedd fan hyn.

When all the ice melts, the sea will be up to here.

 

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