The Weather Channel’s new video on climate change feels a lot like one of Disneyland’s 3D adventure rides. But instead of flying over Avatar’s Na’vi river, meteorologist Jen Carfagno travels to the year 2100, where Charleston, South Carolina, is permanently flooded.
“People come to us to get the forecasts, especially if there’s a big extreme weather event, but these are all very slowly and gradually being modified by climate change,” Matthew Sitkowski, executive weather producer at the Weather Channel, told the Verge.
“Take a look around; it’s the year 2100 and a warming planet has forever changed American cities,” Carfagno narrates in the video, which uses the technology of immersive mixed reality to create dramatic sound effects and almost-realistic picturesque graphics.
The horrifying depiction of Charleston points to a major issue faced by the Carolinas.
States along the coastline are drastically affected by warming oceans, sea level rises, and increasing global temperatures. A report released by the White House last year warned that coastal flooding could jump up to 1,500%, and the Carolinas could face unprecedented heat waves.
The report, mandated by Congress, also notes: “In the coming decades and centuries, climate change will continue to transform many ecosystems throughout the Southeast.”
Another city featured in the video that faces dire consequences of climate change is Norfolk, Virginia, which has suffered nine major floods in the past decade.
“Just a steady onshore breeze and high tide can lead to flooded roads and homes,” Carfagno said about Norfolk — the city that houses the country’s many naval shipyards.
Using speedy camera movements and blustery sounds in the background, the video then transports the viewer to the “Arctic — the fastest warming area on Earth” and the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland.
Using technology common to video games, the clip presents intensified sounds of crumbling ice, speeding winds, and a breaching whale splashing water.
While the glacier itself has gained ice over the last year, the larger trend shows that Greenland lost around 739 gigatons of ice, with the Jakobshavn Glacier and four others accounting for approximately 30% of those losses.
The video ends with a powerful message, as Carfagno shifts to a more urgent tone.
“Glaciers like this aren’t unique; they are disappearing all over the world,” she said. “It’s happening now: temperatures are rising, ice is melting, sea levels are accelerating upwards, and it’s going to get worse within our lifetime.”