After water has been drained to a depth of 2 kilometres

Article: Randall Munroe (xkcd) on draining the world’s oceans

After water has been drained to a depth of 2 kilometres
After water has been drained to a depth of 2 kilometres

Randall Munroe, the man behind the xkcd webcomic I love so much, conducts another thought experiment in his “What If?” series, this one related to the ocean:

How quickly would the ocean’s drain if a circular portal 10 meters in radius leading into space was created at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the ocean? How would the Earth change as the water is being drained?

Check out the Agulhas shelf extending off South Africa in the map above. After even just a few tens of metres of water had gone down the imaginary drain, all the recreational dive sites we frequent would be on dry land.

Complicating the imaginary drainage process is the fact that the ocean is full of mountains and trenches – and many of the mountains are higher than the ones on land. As the water drains, parts of the world’s oceans would become cut off by these mountains and ridges, and stop draining. The step by step illustrations of the progressive changes in the earth’s landmass are surprisingly disturbing. It’s a kind of reverse global warming scenario, where sea levels fall instead of rise.

Read the full article/thought experiment¬†here. Spoiler: we’re all going to be Dutch

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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