If Oceans Drained Away

A NASA simulation has revealed just how the Earth would look if the oceans were to gradually drain away, with stunning results.

In a recent remake of a 2008 NASA video, planetary scientist James O’Donoghue shows what it would look like if all this water were to flow, revealing the hidden three-fifths of Earth’s surface.

In the new updates, after just a drop in sea levels of 50 metres, the land on Earth is much more visible, with the UK and Ireland joining mainland Europe.

Papua New Guinea and Australia connect also, with Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam all becoming connected through dry land.

The video also reveals how just a small drop in ocean levels make the continental shelves more visible.

By removing 1,000 metres of sea level, it would be possible to travel from Europe to the Americas by land.

This is how the world would look with 1000m less of sea levels (Image: NASA)

Mr O’Donoghue told Business Insider: “I slowed down the start since, rather surprisingly, there’s a lot of undersea landscape instantly revealed in the first tens of meters.

Here’s his slow-motion version:

“When the last ice age occurred, a lot of ocean water was locked up as ice at the poles of the planet. That’s why land bridges used to exist.

“Each of these links enabled humans to migrate, and when the ice age ended, the water sort of sealed them in.”

It also shows the longest mountain range on Earth, which appears after the sea level has dropped from 2,000 to 3,000 meters (6,500 to 9,800 feet). It is the mid-ocean ridge, which spans 37,000 miles (60,000 km) around the world. More than 90 percent of it is underwater.

Once the animation reaches 6,000 metres, most of the ocean is gone, but it takes another 5,000 metres of sea level deduction to expose the entirety of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point on the planet.

Mr O’Donoghue said: “I like how this animation reveals that the ocean floor is just as variable and interesting in its geology as the continents.”

He added that emptying the ocean not only reveals the “ocean bottom, but also the ancient story of humanity.”