Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Search Challenge (11/28/12): Will the Plex be underwater?

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, everyone who lives near the coast keeps thinking about water levels—when something like Sandy comes racing up your shoreline, will you be swamped? 

Or, more generally, as oceans levels rise, will my front yard become a permanent duck pond?

I live pretty close to the Plex, so let’s try to figure out this important question for my workplace.  (And what’s true for the Plex will be true for my house as well!) 
Question for this week:  Will a sea level rise of 10 feet put the Plex under sea water, or will it just become beachfront property? 

As usual, please let us know: 
1.  HOW you solved the challenge, and, 
2.  let us know HOW LONG it took you to find an answer you believe. 

Search on! 


  1. Nope. Nice beachfront property. Googleplex is 14.702ft above sea level.

    Searched for 'feet above sea level' and found a Google tool to give any location's altitude.

    Found the Googleplex, clicked and voila.

    Took about 3 mins.

  2. The Plex becomes WATERFRONT property.

    So - a few steps. First to find out where the Googleplex is. By typing that term into Google, we get the nice info bar on the side that contains the address.

    Next - Figuring out what happens if the sea levels rise. I typed in "maps sea level rise" and the first result was [], which uses NASA data to show which areas are affected by flooding/sea level rises. Unfortunately, it uses meters as it's unit, which leads us to...

    Step 3 - converting 10 feet to meters. I typed in "convert meters to feet", and was given the calculator tool at the top of the page with the conversion. I put 10 in the 'feet' box, and saw that the 'meter' results changed to just over 3.

    Luckily, 3m was a choice for flood rise. Using the address that I had found (and zoomed into, so I knew where it was) for the Googleplex, I zoomed in to that location to find that the Plex seems to sit just high enough so that it has water surrounding it, but not in fact, flooding the cafeteria.

    This took me about 2 minutes, and made me feel good about the flood-safety of both my apartment and my childhood home (which are safe up to 60m of least according to this map)

  3. According to you will keep your feet dry.

    See map at,-122.084&z=0&m=3

    3 minutes
    Google search for [sea level rise predictions map] pointed me to the Flood maps.
    Wikipedia search for Googleplex came with the exact coordinates: 37.422°N 122.084°W

    10 feet = 3 meters

  4. I know I have seen a few interactive maps to show areas flooded by varying levels of rise so I began by searching for [ map ocean rise ]

    In a different tab I searched [ map google headquaters ] so I knew where it was.

    The ones I looked at from my first search only gave increments in meters. So I looked at views of a 3 meter rise and a 4 meter rise.

    ANSWER - A 3 meter rise the GooglePlex appears to be mostly above water and still connected to land. A 4 meter rise makes the Google campus an island with partial flooding.,-122.0796&z=3&m=4&t=2

    This one was more blocky and basically showed different results

    Approx. time 5 minutes

  5. Did a search for "height above sea level".

    Second link on the results page took me to where I entered the lat/long for the Googleplex (acquired from the Google website).

    Result: Altitude = 10.69 feet

    So a ten foot rise would be lapping at the doors and probably flood the basement.

    Time: 2 minutes

  6. I solved it in about 5 minutes.

    1) My Google Search query: [ocean rise map]

    2) Tried first link: - not optimal

    3) Tried second link:

    4) Zoomed into the GooglePlex area on map

    5) Set sea rise level to 3 meters

    6) Brought up another browser window with Google Maps and entered the GooglePlex address.

    7) Equalized location and zoom between the two windows

    8) The stick pin for the GooglePlex was in one of the dry areas but there were many blue areas nearby.

    9) So, the answer was the latter option

  7. I think you will definitely be underwater. I search on sea level rise California and found this site which showed the the Bay would reach most of the Google buildings

    However I wanted to find a more official site and located this one with a PDF map. When I compared it to a printed map of where Googleplex is located, it still seemed true.

    However, I then found an interactive map which provided the same information with more detail:

  8. Another comment for Dan:

    Initially, I was going to do a search like this [USGS DEM interactive] to get the Digital Dlevation Model and see what the elevation in the DEM was for the GooglePlex, but I tried the more straightforward [ocean rise map] approach first and it worked, probably more quickly than the USGS.

    Also, with the approach I did use, I positioned the two windows side-by-side and crossed my eyes to merge the two (which wasn't really necessary) making the answer even more apparent. My point here being it would be nice to be able to create a multi-layer GIS view of the two maps.

    Finally, in your instructions, if you do not want us to publish the 'answer' in our posting, please state this in your instructions (As usual...).


    1. Rick -- You can certainly post the answers here. I hold the comments back until around 1PM so everyone who wants to can get a chance to work on it without seeing the answers. At 1, I start letting the comments come thru.

  9. Good Day Dr. Russell, fellow searchers.

    Searched [Sea level rise]


    Global Sea Level Rise Map - Global Warming & Climate Change ...

    Flood Maps

    Found: In there searched Google and Mountain View Found:,-122.0670&z=1&m=3

    Surging Seas: Sea level rise analysis by Climate Central

    In there: [ Mountain view, California ]

    [10 feet in m] A: 3.048

    Question for this week: Will a sea level rise of 10 feet put the Plex under sea water, or will it just become beachfront property?
    A: With a sea level rise of 10 foot the Plex will be under sea water.

    Took me about 10 min to found where to find the answer and a little more to verify data and search in the maps

  10. On this very wet day here on the coast of California this questions hits home today.

    The basic question is what is the altitude above mean sea level of the Plex? Is it 10 feet or more? (10 feet is 3.048 meters.)

    So first search was for the address of the Plex, or the Google headquarters in Mountain View,CA.
    I just looked up [Google Plex] and the address is listed as:
    1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, Santa Clara County, California, United States, near San Jose.

    I went to Google maps and entered this address in to see the Plex on a map.

    Now I want the altitude above sea level. So searched in another tab for [Googleplex altitude]. One site listed the altitude as 8 meters, but this is a travel site so I don’t really trust that number.

    Changing my search term I thought there must be maps of [sea level change] so searched for that term.

    I found an interesting site
    This blog asks almost the same type of question about Washington.
    “How soon could ocean waters lap at Jefferson’s Feet?” referring to the monument in Washington, DC. The good part was that they discussed maps of sea level change and one that seemed reliable was at and had maps for the California Bay area at:

    The site lets you select the level of sea change in meters, so we use 3 meters and see what is covered.

    Now I just had to compare the map at with the Google map, and lucky me they are both using Google maps.

    After adjusting the scale on the it seems that some of GooglePlex will be underwater and some not (for 3 meters). It seems to be beach front and beach depending where one is on the Googleplex compound.

    To really drill down I looked with street view for the picture of the building and Google sign posted in the picture. Ah Hah! Seem to be the corner of Building 40 near the Café Slice. Now I can zoom in on the map and see if it is flooded with 3 meters ocean rise. So my final answer is that exact spot will not flood with a 3 meter rise in the ocean, but very close to being flooded.
    The search took about 20 minutes and to find the ‘hopefully’ exact spot took another 20.

    1. fwiw: nice job - enjoyed your explanation/process/methodology - and IDing Bldg 40 and Charlie's Cafe in the photo.
      it's not just finding the information, but making it engaging & elastic - in other words, there are multiple routes & layers.

      you clearly noted Dan's little tweak/variable about belief:
      2. let us know HOW LONG it took you to find an answer you believe.

  11. beachfront. ~2 minutes.
    Google Earth has an elevation feature. Looks like the northeast corner will be the dampest at right around 10ft.

  12. Searching for I found a great little program here: This allowed me to search for Mountain view where I found the Googleplex and via Wikipedia I got the address.

    Looks like a near thing with Amphitheatre Broadway being just over 10 feet above sea level - but what does that mean? Is that high tide, mean sea level or what? More research needed.
    Taken about 20 mins so far (with distractions!).

    1. The distinction between tide levels is a very important one. Is sea level measured at mean, low, or high tide? Depending on the differences in tide heights in the Bay area, the 4ft difference between the Plex's ~14ft altitude and the 10ft rise amount, parts of the Plex certainly could be inundated.

    2. A bit of research shows that Sea Level is in fact defined as the average of mean high and mean low tide levels.

      Looking at the peak tide levels for Palo Alto, CA we see that High tide can come in at nearly 10ft. Assuming that the current sea level can be taken as approximately the 5ft mark (on the scale of low to high tide), then with the new sea level 10 ft higher than current, a High Tide even will come in at around 15 feet, putting parts of the Plex under a foot or so of water.

      Peak Tide Info:

  13. ...a couple of minutes

    Beachfront but likely not desirable property. I used Google Earth's hi resolution imagery of this area to check elevations. I also looked up Moffatt Airport's elevation at

    to do a relative check the Plex elevation obtained via GE.

    I believe the 10 foot sea rise would cause serious damage in the area with flooded basements and soggy ground around the Plex and maybe your house too. Storms of course and earthquakes can cause high water levels on top of this too.

    I'll be washed away before you though from my proximity to the Great Salish Sea

  14. Searches turn up that the GooglePlex is roughly 14ft above sea level, so an ocean rise of 10ft *shouldn't* put it underwater.
    HOWEVER, the Bay is not the only concern. Look at Long Beach, NY during Sandy -- the ocean came across the beach, but most damage was done because the Bay also rose and flooded across the island.
    The Permanente Creek runs directly next to the Plex, and outflows into both Charleston and Mountain View Slough. An ocean rise of 10ft will permanently flood the sloughs, backing up the flow of the creek. With no outflow, the creek levels rise, flooding their banks, and thus, flooding the Plex. If the rise is gradual, the banks can be fortified, but if the rise is sudden (ala Sandy), there won't be time to protect the Plex. See the results of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn for damage from Sandy.

  15. I think you are in trouble. Did a search for Google Headquarters then using Google Earth found it 13 feet above. Time spent less than it took to type this out. Complication: the tides at the West Point Slough can be as high as 9 feet or as low as -1 foot the effects of rising seas on tides is not so clear so my guess is that you might want to invest in pontoons. In any case, with earthquakes and the advent of liquefaction you probably want to work out a Plan "B". On the other hand, you might attach some cleats to the building and as the building starts to sink you can simply "push off" both literally and figuratively....

  16. You are toast. I did some more research -- you are 13' elevation but sea level rise, according to Wiki, is average, flat water level since the tides are between 9 to -1 feet at the West Point Slough you can guess that the sea level is going to be 5 feet higher when a normal tide comes in, if the wind blows the waves will rise you should have life preservers handy. If there are unexpected problems, i.e. Hayward fault breaks and causes a bay bound tsunami you may want to have a surf board or a sailboat handy. You may want to see if the self-driving car technology can be ported to pontoon boats fairly quickly....

  17. David Helvarg's The Golden Shore to be released in Feb 2013 may be of interest for anyone on the California coast.

  18. I am late coming to this one, but yesterdays coat of arms turned out so dismally for me I wanted to redeem myself. Using this site: you will very clearly be underwater.