A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

The Future Flooded Cambridge of Red Rock

In the world of Red Rock Danni and Gracie visit many locations, some you may also have visited or maybe even live – Naples, Malta, Greenland! But in the world of Red Rock many of these places are changed. The ice caps have melted. Sea levels are rising. Many coastal and low lying regions have been inundated.

And none more so than the city of Cambridge, where Danni and Gracie have to venture, searching for an old thesis hidden in one of the college libraries.

IMG_0411 This is Cambridge as we currently know it – a bustling University town filled with students on bicycles hurrying between colleges. The colleges form havens within the city, wonderful buildings, iconic landmarks and lovingly tended gardens.


But when Danni visits, some thirty years from now, all this is gone.

It is estimated that should the world’s icecaps all melt then global sea levels will rise by as much as 70 m. In the world of Red Rock this process has barely begun, but the Greenland Ice cap is much depleted and the sea levels have risen by about 12 m.

This may not be a worst case scenario, it’s an ongoing process, but the effects of a 12 m sea level are significant. Most of the coastal towns are gone. The whole shape of our island has changed.

For the future Cambridge in Red Rock the effects have been severe.

Although at present a long way from the coast, the region around Cambridge is flat and low lying. In fact the whole area up to the Wash is not much more than around 10 metres above sea level. So as sea levels rise this region will gradually become swamped, the countryside taken over by water. Fields will become lakes and eventually, ocean.


When Danni and Gracie venture there the sea has reached Cambridge. The flat landscape of fields and woods has been replaced by tidal mudflats. The people have abandoned the city and left it to the sea.


The buildings are still standing. At high tide they form islands and at low tide the mudflats that cover the streets and gardens provide a treacherous passage between them. Soon the effects of the water will be too much. A couple of big storms and the buildings will crumble. Cambridge will finally be taken by the sea.

But for now it stands, a ghost of a town, the few remaining inhabitants not really being the sort of people you want to meet.


A tragic future for a beautiful city. But’s the really worrying thing is – it’s already started to happen.



By day Kate Kelly works as a marine scientist but by night she writes SF thrillers for kids. Her debut novel Red Rock, a Cli-Fi thriller for teens, inspired in part by her fascination with the sea, is published by Curious Fox and a collection of her short stories, The Scribbling Sea Serpent, is now available. Kate lives in Dorset with her husband, two daughters and assorted pets.


This entry was posted on October 16, 2015 by .

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