From Mountains to Seas, and Seas to Mountains

Let’s take a break from all the plots we can do with Tropical Cyclone tracks. Let’s play with topography data instead.

I once came upon this piece of art where the artist “inverted” the Earth. They turned the oceans into land, and the land into lakes. It’s what some people call “Inversia”.

Sanna Dullaway, https://www.deviantart.com/mygrapefruit/art/Inverted-Earth-Day-and-Night-320548494

It makes for a fascinating image. But, if something like that magically happened where land becomes water, and water becomes land, we would all die.

Life is possible on Earth because of an ideal combination of land, water, and atmosphere. When we invert water and land, the 71% of water will then become 29%. This might mean larger areas of the globe will experience less rainfall, and possibly drier, less fertile land.

Now, as Inversia is a rather hard thought experiment, let’s turn to something more close to home and relatively simpler.

What if seas of the Philippines become mountains, and the mountains become water?

Using topography from SRTM and bathymetry data from GEBCO, I set higher topographies to look like water, and lower topographies to look like land.

From island nation to lake nation.

It’s not strictly as how Inversia would be, where land would automatically become water, and water become land. To make a believable figure, I tried my best to strike a balance where existing low lands are still land, but higher mountains are turned into lakes.

The next question is, if all of a sudden the elevations of the Philippines inverted (Philippinversia lelz), will we still survive?

We’ll never find out, but it’s something to think about.


Now, the previous figure may look nice, but there are caveats in this visualization.

  1. There is a mismatch with the resolution of SRTM (30m) and GEBCO (30 arc seconds). That’s why areas which were supposed to be oceans are blurry.
  2. The levels are arbitrarily chosen. We could easily set them to something else.