Which Country Will Be First to Go Completely Underwater Due to Climate Change?
This country "could become the first state in history to be completely erased by the sea," says Evan Puschak of the Seeker Network. It's the planet's lowest country. "On average, it's only five feet above sea level," says Puschak. If the oceans continue to rise, as predicted, 77 percent of this country will be under water by the end of the century. If the rate of rise increases even more, as a new study suggests, the country could even be submerged by 2085.
And it's not alone, many other low-lying island nations face a similar fate. Find out which country could be under water in our lifetime:
It's not just low-lying island nations either. "A recent study says we can expect the oceans to rise between 2.5 and 6.5 feet (0.8 and 2 meters) by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast," says National Geographic. "More dire estimates, including a complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, push sea level rise to 23 feet (7 meters), enough to submerge London."
VICE's season premiere this year covered how sea level rise will devastate coastal communities, specifically focusing on Bangladesh, home to more than 150 million people.
And today, The Miami New Times reports that a Dutch sea level expert, Henk Ovink, is calling Miami, Florida "the new Atlantis" because “Miami will no longer be a land city, but a city in the sea.”
Sea level rise is caused by thermal expansion (when water warms up, it rises), melting glaciers and polar ice caps, and ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica—all of which are caused by climate change, according to National Geographic.
Earlier this week, NASA scientists reported that a massive ice shelf in West Antarctica will be gone in a few years. Which begs the question: What happens if all the world's ice melts? Julia Wilde at Discovery News explains what will happen as more and more of the world's ice melts.
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What Is Ammonium Nitrate?<p>Ammonium nitrate is a white crystalline salt that can be fairly cheaply produced from ammonia and nitric acid. It is soluble and often used as fertilizer, as nitrogen is needed for healthy plant development.</p><p>Ammonium nitrate in its pure form is not dangerous. It is, however, heat sensitive. At 32.2 degrees Celsius (89.96 degrees Fahrenheit), ammonium nitrate changes its atomic structure, which in turn changes its chemical properties.</p><p>When large quantities of ammonium nitrate are stored in one place, heat is generated. If the amount is sufficiently vast, it can cause the chemical to ignite. Once a temperature of 170 C is reached, ammonium nitrate starts breaking down, emitting nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. Any sudden ignition causes ammonium nitrate to decompose directly into water, nitrogen and oxygen, which explains the enormous explosive power of the salt.</p>
Deadly Disasters<p>As ammonium nitrate is a highly explosive chemical, many countries strictly regulate its use. Over the past 100 years, there have been several disasters involving the chemical.</p><p>In 1921, for example, a massive blast occurred at a BASF chemical plant in Ludwigshafen in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. About 400 metric tons of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate exploded, killing 559 people and injuring 1,977. The plant was largely destroyed in the blast, which could be heard as far away as Munich, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) distant.</p><p>In 2015, explosions caused by ammonium nitrate ripped through the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/china-convicts-dozens-for-last-years-giant-explosions-in-tianjin/a-36324321" target="_blank">Chinese port city of Tianjin</a>. Eight hundred metric tons of the chemical were said to have been stored along with other substances in a warehouse for hazardous materials. The blasts killed 173 people and destroyed an entire city district.</p><p>Two years earlier, in 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company site in Texas, killing 14 people. And in 2001, 31 people died in Toulouse, France, in an explosion caused by the chemical.</p>
Terrorist Favorite<p>In Germany, the purchase and use of ammonium nitrate is regulated by the explosives act. This is because the cheap, highly explosive and relatively easily obtainable material has in the past been used by terrorists to carry out attacks.</p><p>For example, in 1995, U.S. conspiracy theorist and gun enthusiast Timothy McVeigh used a mixture of ammonium nitrate and other substances to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik also used ammonium nitrate in a car bomb attack in Oslo in 2011.</p>
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