Rising Waters

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Rising Waters/Rising Tides shows where future flood and high tide water levels will be on land which is currently dry. The colorful painted fish act as a totem and a key: a warning that conveys future water levels, making the invisible visible. As we walk by these stripings, measuring them with our bodies, seeing water at ankle, knee, hip or eye level, or higher, the issue of climate change gains immediacy. The markings help you imagine where the water will be in the future, and what will be awash. At 16 installations and counting, Rising Waters continues to be installed in cities with flood risks – coastal or riparian- across the world. Email us to be part of Rising Waters in your city- if you have a site to be marked, a group to participate, or you just want to help.

Sponsors, local or global, may support this highly visible project.

Scroll to the bottom of this page to see some data on sea level rise predictions. For information on what you can do, see our resources page.

Climate Creatives is a member of the Small Island Developing States Global Business Network.

Rising Waters at the United Nations and on tour:

The United Nations OHRLLS, UN office of the high representative for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, hosted an exhibition of photographs of the San Blas installation for The Ocean Conference at the United Nations in June 2017. Susan attended the High Level Dialogue for Oceans and Small Islands States as well. Several thousand oceans experts, advocates and country representatives attended this invitation-only conference over most of a week and saw the exhibition. Rising Waters, Panama also was shown at EarthDay Texas in April, where over 100,000 people attended, and Susan spoke on “Bridging the Partisan Divide.” Susan Presented Rising Waters at the BioMuseo in Panama City, in February.




International Installations

February 2017 Susan installed Rising Waters on the San Blas Islands (Kuna Yala) in Panama with community participation and a children’s art workshop.  The water on the community island in San Blas (Kuna Yala) already comes up to the center of the island when tides are highest. The San Blas are very flat, low lying islands, made of coral atolls, which are predicted to be uninhabitable in 20 years. Roughly 20-40,000 Kuna people will need to relocate to mainland before then. The Panama installation was the first of a series of international installations focusing on small island states who are being impacted in the near term. Each installation is being documented with photographs and videos, creating a series that tells the story of sea level rise, to be shown as live exhibitions and on-line in the US to show the impacts of climate change, including climate migrations.

Rising Tides in Provincetown, MA, May 2015 (click here to see more)

Susan Israel Rising Waters 2015, P'Town (2) - sm (576x1024)

Rising Tides at Sustainable Brands Conference, Paradise Point, San Diego, June 2015 (click here to see more)

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Rising Tides at Muddy River, Boston, May 2015 (click here to see more)


Rising Tides at Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, October-November 2014

Stations: Courthouse, UMass/JFK, Kendall, World Trade Center

Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (21)med

Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (22)med Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (23)med


Kudos and Many Thanks:

to the teachers and all of their colleagues whose students participated in making the artwork:

June Krinsky-Rudder, Revere High School, Revere, MA

Cate Arnold, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Alexandra Ford, MLK School, Cambridge, MA and Museum of Fine Arts home school program

…and my volunteer helpers:
Kelly McGee, Rose Scherlis, Ann Healey, Kate Toomey
…and my grantor:

Boston Foundation for Architecture

…and all of my other champions and behind-the-scenes supporters!!

Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (12)med Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (13)med Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (14)med Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (15)med Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (16)med Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (17)med Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (18)med Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (19)med Rising Tides, Susan Israel 2014 (20)medsustain

Rising Tides began in East Boston Shipyard and Marina, in the group show OccupyING the Present, summer 2013. This first iteration used stripes to mark the incremental sea level rise predicted over this century, without storm surge.









Adding her message to the bottle




Community and students participate by painting fish stripings and making their own art in sculpture-building workshops. We provided community workshops at HarborArts and Bartlett Yards as part of Rising Tides and Message-in-a-Bottle.





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Susan Israel, Rising Tides, 2013    Acrylic paint, glass bottles, plastic bottle, asphalt roofing paper, copper wire;  all reclaimed materials

Rising Waters/Rising Tides


detail of window art

detail of window art


Water "filling" the T station at 12.5' flood level

Water “filling” the T station at 12.5′ flood level







Rising Tides:Rising Challenge, Maverick Square, East Boston 2013

Rising Tides worked with Chris Marchi of Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), their teen workforce and an afterschool program to produce artwork for a storm preparedness event and art exhibit November 2013. We “filled” the Maverick MBTA Station and Community Health Center with flood waters using window art. See more here…

The water wraps the station like an Aquarium

The water wraps the station like an Aquarium




Where do we get our data?

Multiple sources which are vetted by scientists and widely agreed to be dependable data. We look at global tools, like the mapping tools of ClimateCentral, and then check with a local scientist. When we were planning Panama, we contacted the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to get local data. In Hawaii, we reached out to the local Planning Board and Universites to find a researcher. This article from Climate Central explains the different scenarios. More is at http://choices.climatecentral.org/#when

“Carbon choices, sea level choices

The sea level we lock in depends on the total amount of carbon we put into the atmosphere. Here is a guide to the possibilities that can be explored in these maps via different settings. Sea level projections are based on the expansion of ocean water as it warms; melting glaciers and ice caps; and the decay of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Maps show local projections that can vary by several feet from the global average due mainly to changing gravity fields as the polar ice sheets lose mass. Local projections shown do not factor in the continuation of current land subsidence or uplift. (In most places, these might translate to a few centimeters or inches per century, but some places, such as southeastern Louisiana in the U.S., are sinking close to ten times faster.)

Temperatures. Warming of 2 °C (3.6 °F) is a long-standing international target, and corresponds to what many would consider successful global efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions. It also corresponds, in this analysis, to 4.7 meters (15.4 feet) of global sea level rise locked in to someday take place. Warming of 4 °C (7.2 °F) is close to our current path, would represent a breakdown in efforts, and corresponds to 8.9 m (29.2 ft) of locked-in global sea level rise. The span from 2-4 °C covers the likely range of possible outcomes from global climate talks at COP21 in Paris.

Warming of 3 °C (5.4 °F) corresponds roughly to the current sum of “intended nationally determined commitments” for reducing emissions, and 6.4 m (21.0 ft) of locked-in global sea level rise. Warming of 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) is the preferred goal of many island nations as compared to 2 °C (3.6 °F), and corresponds to 2.9 m (9.5 ft) of locked-in rise.

These are the four warming levels for which these maps visualize projections of committed sea level rise. The analysis behind the maps accounts only for warming caused by carbon dioxide, a long-term climate pollutant: in other words, as one example, the 2 °C (3.6 °F) scenario requires enough carbon emissions to cause this warming acting alone.

Other visualizations are based on carbon pathways, as opposed to set temperature increases, and are described just below.

Unchecked pollution. This is essentially the course we are on now. Technically, this option corresponds to a scientific scenario called RCP 8.5, which carbon pollution has been tracking closely so far. RCP 8.5 implies we emit a total of 2,430 gigatons of carbon by 2100 (or 3.67 times that weight of CO2). That corresponds to 3.3 °C (5.9 °F) of eventual warming, and 7.1 meters (23.3 feet) of global sea level rise locked in to someday take place. These are central estimates within wider possible ranges, as are the further estimates in this section below. Note that in RCP 8.5, annual emissions are still rising in 2100, so locked-in sea levels will continue to increase. However, these maps and the analysis do not account for further pollution past 2100 under any of the four carbon pathways considered.”