On twitter Christopher Mims noted that global warming temps will return us to approximately the Eemian Age (and further if things don’t turn around, but it looks likely we’ll be seeing something like the Eemian Age). From wikipedia, a few snippets about what that looked like:
The warmest peak of the Eemian was around 125,000 years ago, when forests reached as far north as North Cape (which is now tundra) in northern Norway well above the Arctic Circle at 71°10′21″N 25°47′40″E. Hardwood trees like hazel and oak grew as far north as Oulu, Finland.
the northern hemisphere winters were generally warmer and wetter than now, though some areas were actually slightly cooler than today. The Hippopotamus was distributed as far north as the rivers Rhine and Thames. Trees grew as far north as southern Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago instead of only as far north as Kuujjuaq in northern Quebec, and the prairie-forest boundary in the Great Plains of the United States lay further west — near Lubbock, Texas, instead of near Dallas, Texas, where the boundary now exists.
Scandinavia was an island due to the inundation of vast areas of northern Europe and the West Siberian Plain.
You can see the Oil Drum using the Eemian age as a way to compare what’s just around the corner for us, looking at glaciers melting in Greenland and Antarctica.
The idiottracker Blogspot has a map of what an Eemian USA looks like in terms of water level rises:
How long will it take to get to Eemian levels is in dispute: 100, 200, 300 years? The current warming speeds suggest Eemian levels in a century or two (and one thing I learned from writing Arctic Rising, the worst case scenario of today is a conservative best case scenario two years down the road). So even assuming a 200 year slide into Eemian levels as a result of today’s actions, the future of the USA’s North East Corridor looks different….