Green screens work wonders. Just ask the Weather Channel. It’s able to put viewers smack dab in the middle of wildfires, flooding, and, now, dramatic sea level rise. The network released a new video—the first focusing entirely on climate change—using its immersive mixed reality technology Wednesday. The segment aired during the channel’s morning show with host Jen Carfagno guiding viewers through a scary future that’s already arrived.
“We decided to make climate change the star and really wrap our hands around it,” said Matt Sitkowski, an executive producer at the Weather Channel who worked on this video, to Earther. “We wanted to make the point that climate change is happening now, and so the impacts are only going to get worse in the future.”
The nearly 2-minute video starts out in Charleston, South Carolina. The year is 2100, and streets are permanently inundated. But as the video quickly shows, climate change is already impacting coastal communities today as a result of our polar glaciers melting and tumbling into the ocean. After a brief whirlwind through the watery streets of coastal Virginia, the video takes viewers to the Arctic to witness the meltdown of Jacobshavn glacier in Greenland.
“That might seem like a distant place you don’t have to worry about, but the changes there are ultimately going to impact the weather and the sea level rise along our coastal communities,” Sitkowski told Earther.
Since 1900, the global mean sea level rise has increased by about 7 to 8 inches, according to the recent Climate Science Special Report by the National Academies of Sciences. By 2030, that number is expected to increase to 0.3 to 0.6 feet. And as the Weather Channel’s video illustrates, the total rise may be as high as 4 feet by 2100.
The network spent about six weeks working on this latest video, and it’s planning on releasing a bunch more, too. The team is always looking for opportunities to weave in information related to climate change, but it “depends on what stories we’re looking to tell and what events we’re covering,” said Sitkowski.