I want the Netherlands to be flooded entirely, and I want the event to be of such a scale that it goes faster than hydroengineering can keep up with. This will mean that I need a sea level rise of about 330 meters, since the highest point in the Netherlands is the Vaalserberg at 322.4 meters above NAP and I want it flooded too.

Wikipedia seems to suggest that apparently, a sea level rise of 65-130 cm by the year 2100 can be survived (with relative ease). Waiting for nature is a slow business though, at 2-3 mm a year. At that rate, engineering is very likely to be able to keep up with rising sea levels, and I'll never succeed in flooding the country.

Also, if I melt all the ice, on mountains and the poles, I sadly only have enough water for a sea level rise of about 216 feet/ 66 meters. I don't mind melting all that ice, but after that, I am about 260 meters of sea level rise short of entirely flooding the Netherlands, and I'm not sure if I can even get that amount of water.

Can I permanently and entirely flood the Netherlands, and if yes, how do I do it in as fast a way as possible?

  • 71
    Welcome to the club. Nice question, I have to check my agenda and change my plans for summer... – L.Dutch Jun 18 at 19:24
  • 59
    Absolutely obligatory XKCD-What-ifs: Part 1 and Part 2. About draining oceans, Netherlands, and New Neatherlands. – FoxElemental Jun 18 at 20:51
  • 7
    I'd read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanclean_flood - because giant floods are interesting. Filling the mediterranean over the course of 1-3 years is one f...g massive flood. – Stian Yttervik Jun 19 at 7:13
  • 33
    Good sodding luck. The ocean has tried that repeatedly for as long as the country has existed and we're still here. You bring a bigger flood, we'll invent better hydroengineering. We've done it before, we'll do it again. – Shadur Jun 20 at 8:06
  • 31
    You forgot to add the “I’m asking for a friend” disclaimer… – Holger Jun 21 at 9:10

28 Answers 28

up vote 66 down vote accepted

Can't realistically be done.

As you pointed out, there is not enough water on the Earth. You could get away with a Grote Mandrenke, but no more (and you want "permanent").

Adding that much water through a "cosmic snowball" would require a more-than-Chicxulub-sized water asteroid: the kinetic impact alone would wreck the Earth.

Actually the surface of the Earth is 510 million square kilometers, of which about 80% is water to be raised. Multiplying that for a height of 300 meters gives around 30 million cubic kilometers of water, which, as a sphere, would have a radius of around 310 kilometers: forty times the size of the Chicxulub impactor, it would not be an asteroid but a small moon, the same size and one fourth the mass of Vesta.

In this picture, the Chicxulub impactor is approximately the size of the dot on the "i" of "Chicxulub" (15 km diameter).

enter image description here

Also, even if fragmented in an implausible string of smaller water comets, that quantity of water would get most coastal areas flooded everywhere on the whole planet and its kinetic energy would still wreck the weather systems (there's something of the kind in J. G. Ballard's The Wind From Nowhere). Plus, it would be fresh water. The alteration in salinity would wreck the oceanic circulation even more, and kill off a large(?) part of the sea life.

A kilogram of ice at orbital speeds of 20 km/s and initial temperature of 10 K possesses a kinetic energy of 200 MJ. It takes 1.1 MJ to bring it to 0 °C and 0.334 MJ to melt it, leaving a net credit of 198 MJ, or 830000 kilocalories; enough to bring eight tonnes of water to the boiling point.

What would actually happen is that the "snowballs" would explode in incandescent water vapour in the atmosphere. Enough snowballs to raise the sea level by 250+ meters would be enough to steam cook the planet, long before the steam condensed enough to contribute to the water level.

Tectonically, Netherlands is safe again. The whole area is quiet and in the middle of the European plate. No chance of a mess like Juan de Fuca.

The kind of energy needed for such a bit of planetary reshaping is out of reach of our K0.73 civilization and, again, would probably wreck the planet in the bargain.

The Wall

Walling in the Netherlands and pumping water in requires some pumping. It turns out that with about four megawatt of power you can raise six hundred cubic meters of water per second, one meter. Using OnoSendai's figure of 1.3E+16 cubic meters of water, to be raised on average 150 m, we get 0.3E+16 pump-seconds; given that one year is 3E+7 seconds, it's 100 million pump-years. If we want to flood Netherlands in ten years, we require 10 million such pumps, with an expenditure of some 500 trillion USD, and an energy requirement of 40 TW. In one year that's 24*365*40 = 350400 terawatt-hour.

Given that "The total electricity consumption of the Netherlands in 2013 was 119 terawatt-hour" (from Wikipedia), this works out to about three thousand times the total electricity budget for the whole Netherlands.

So, as long as the tag holds, I believe there's no way.

Relaxing a bit (a large bit) the limits, the best way to go seems to be the tectonic anomaly. Instead of increasing the oceanic level, you sink the Netherlands enough that it goes under. You could get away with several years of unexplainable geomagnetic readings possibly linked with the planetary decrease in field strength, and nothing apparently happening.

What actually happens is that the geometry of the convection zones beneath Europe is changing; a "bubble" of lighter material rises towards the surface, and maybe has risen for hundreds of thousands of years (this is the same mechanism that had been proposed to explain certain ship disappearances. It has since been at least partially rejected). Finally it reaches the underside of the European plate, which starts flexing between the Baltic Shield and the Rhine.

enter image description here

Instantly, in geological terms; a matter of months, years at most, in human terms. The whole of the Netherlands, part of Western Germany, and most of Belgium subside, while the dams collapse one after another.

  • I agree with your first part, but I'm unsure about your second. I like your story about the changing convections, but can geological movement on a continental scale happen that fast? – Schmuddi Jun 18 at 22:40
  • 20
    No. it can't. But with a lot of handwaving you just might. – Borgh Jun 19 at 7:15
  • 1
    As-is, I agree there's not enough water, but what if we could displace it? Is there enough matter above sea level (mountain ranges, etc...) that we could dump in the ocean to make up the missing meters? – Lord Farquaad Jun 19 at 16:03
  • 1
    @kingledion that is what I suggested, but doing that in the requested time frame is also unfeasible (as far as current 'science' knows). Convective mechanisms allow more leeway than snow comet thermodynamics though, so I went for those. – LSerni Jun 20 at 6:35
  • 3
    How about a tsunami or a series of tsunamis that erode the highest part of the country away so the other effects have an easier time? Tsunami flood waves have easily reached a height of hundreds of meters in the (luckily prehistoric) past. Should be easy to incorporate with the geological phenomenon if a certain amount of hand-waving is applied anyway. – Christian Jun 20 at 12:07

Have you considered lowering the highest points in The Netherlands, perhaps with explosives? That way we can reduce our target value.

Additionally, is it feasible to introduce additional water from an outside source? A water-rich comet striking the ice cap would go a long way in both adding water and melting what we have, and doing it fast.

I'm apparently bad at research but I imagine that if we could somehow condense all of the water in the atmosphere, we'd get at least a few dozen meters of sea level rise, as well.

We ARE okay with annihilating life on the planet, too, right? Just thought I'd ask. ;-)

Edit: Additionally, remember all of that cool hydroengineering that's being used to protect The Netherlands from the sea level rising? Delta Works and everything? Well, we could perhaps also do some hydroengineering to build something IN the ocean that will hold the water up against the land, and from there we can pump water into this relatively closed system from the rest of the ocean. The hard part would be building this in a way that the other, more benign hydroengineers wouldn't notice until it's too late, but it should be do-able.

  • 16
    If you look at an elevation map you will find that most of those highest points are in Limburg. It has been suggested before that Limburg might suit better as part of Belgium, Germany or even its own country. That would sure be easier than using explosives. ;) – JJJ Jun 19 at 14:53
  • I think you could combine the earthworks project with the giant snowball, using the giant snowball to rearrange the high points of the Netherlands while simultaneously adding water... Not sure you could get enough even that way, though. – user3067860 Jun 19 at 15:42
  • 1
    @JJJ with that logic you may as well say that the "Netherlands" are located right next to Atlantis and say that it's already under water. – Brad Jun 20 at 16:21
  • @Brad but that would be factually inaccurate. Note that my comment was an attempt at humour. I don't think we are ready to give Limburg to Germany just yet (nor do the Limburgish like it when I suggest doing so, even I say it as a joke ;)). – JJJ Jun 20 at 16:36

As a Dutchman living 20 meters above the sea level, I will be happy to see you fail. I have full confidence in Dutch engineers, if given enough money.

NL is under more threat from flooding by rivers than by the sea, you could focus on river dykes.

Let's not forget that in pre-historic times all of NL already has been under the sea. The marl that is dug out from under the St. Pietersberg in Maastricht has been deposited there by sea life, and the Mosasaurus was a sea creature too. You just need to trigger some major geological event. Consider that the Alps only formed after the dinosaurs were gone, and how high they are.

Finally, if you flatten the entire surface of the earth then obviously all of earth will be under water, under 2.7 km of it ! https://earthscience.stackexchange.com/questions/7446/if-the-earth-were-a-smooth-spheroid-how-deep-would-the-ocean-be . You could make a movie "Waterworld" about that. Oh wait...

  • 4
    "Consider that the Alps only formed after the dinosaurs were gone" a fascinating factoid - thanks for that !!! – Fattie Jun 20 at 13:40
  • This is my favorite answer. The mantle spews new mountains into the ocean, an earthquake shift the whole pacific plate up a few meters, the NL shift down, etc. – theinvisibleduck Jun 20 at 20:22

Make a wall around it, and fill it to the brim.

No need to flood all the other gorgeous places just to get rid of pesky Netherlands - just a big, beautiful wall. (If you can somehow make them pay for it, even better.)

Just get into talks with Germany and Belgium to take care of the land part of the wall, and a few (ok, quite a few) ships to help build the shoreline portion. Make it as tall as necessary to cover the Vaalserberg.

Then start pumping sea water.

Now, the total area of the Netherlands is 41,543 km2 according to wikipedia.

We need a wall 322 meters high, so that gives us 1.338×1016 cubic meters of space.

For comparison, the total water in Earth's oceans, seas, and bays is 1.332×1018 cubic meters according to Wolfram Alpha.

So that means that we need ~1.005% of all that available water to fill up that giant bowl and make a slightly salty Dutch Soup.

  • 3
    You stole that idea: brucereed.com/Humor/Genie.htm :-) It helps that the Dutch have already started on that wall: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Works – StessenJ Jun 20 at 7:59
  • @StessenJ LOL! If anything, it was parallel evolution. ;) – OnoSendai Jun 20 at 12:48
  • 3
    The only water engineers that could do that are Dutch, though...we're the only ones that create land out of water on a grand scale (see also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_(archipelago)) – Jacco van Dorp Jun 20 at 13:33
  • 1
    @LSerni Oh details, details! ;) – OnoSendai Jun 23 at 19:09
  • 1
    @OnoSendai it could be a large project to fight the raising oceans - concentrate all the extra water somewhere (somewhere being the Netherlands). Then some villain might blackmail the world threatening to release all that water... :-D – LSerni Jun 23 at 19:11

Melting all the land bound ice on earth gets you just short of 70m of sea-level rise, total (maybe 75 if you factor in thermal expansion of the upper ocean because of a warmer atmosphere), for 330m you'll need to add water, a series of comet impacts in Antarctica and Greenland will free up large quantities of existing frozen water and add more water to the planetary system simultaneously. Alternatively hit the Netherlands with a large snowball from space and have the crater where the country used to be flooded afterward.

  • 2
    +1 for large snowball. Get a meteorite made of ice to hit, then the ice melts into a lake, doesn't even need to connect to the sea – Mirror318 Jun 19 at 1:39
  • In addition to melting the ice, could you redirect a series of large meteorites into the pacific ocean, which would displace their own volume causing the sea levels to rise further? – colmde Jun 19 at 8:20
  • @colmde You could do that but the "splash" would have far reaching destructive consequences outside the target country. – Ash Jun 19 at 11:50
  • Greenland melting would cause limited sea level rise near the Netherlands, because of gravitational effects. But Antarctica melting certainly would be much more effective. nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/… (Dutch) – Onnonymous Jun 22 at 11:17

Don't reinvent the wheel, use solid water, plagiarise Antarctica!

The idea is really simple. Most comments suggest putting so much liquid water over the Netherlands that it stays there. The problem, of course, is that the water flows from the Limburian Hills to the lower parts.

A simple work around is to copy Antarctica (see picture below), which is covered in ice, not water. When you think about it though, ice is just frozen water. Just because it's frozen doesn't mean it cannot be a flood, Wikipedia calls it an ice jam.

Now, I hear you thinking, the ice would just melt, and the water would flow to the sea. That's right, but we can work around that: create a lot of shade, possibly by creating a reflective layer in the atmosphere so the sun's rays are reflected away from the earth (not sure if this would work properly or if it would kill most of us due to extreme cold and inability to grow things needing sun light). Weirdly enough I didn't find a question about a human-made ice age on this website.

If it gets cold enough, we'd have to hope for rain and snow or just water the earth ourselves. Eventually this would turn in to ice (either under pressure caused by its own weight or the Dutch help in proving that it can be done^^).

Antacrctica shows it can be done, look at those hill tops, it all covered in solid water :). Note that this seems to be a computer generated image. Image taken from Wikipedia, originally from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.

enter image description here

  • 4
    A human-made ice age is indeed the only thing. Great answer, instead of focussing on melting ice, we need to create ice! It will take a while though. – gerrit Jun 21 at 9:23
  • 3
    I'm imagining an army of snow cannons lined up along the dutch border :-) – craq Jun 21 at 22:29

What you really want is Netherlands to be underwater as opposed to being above water. You really don't need to raise water levels in the entire world, you can just lower Netherlands a good 300+ meters and you're done!

Solution: an underwater landslide!

Just slide all that land under Netherlands into the ocean! You might have to take England and a good part of Europe with it while you're at it, because the North Sea isn't deep enough for a 300 meter dive.

Although, all you want is to make Netherlands sink into water. So, during the landslide, the highest point in Netherlands can now become much shorter due to the land under it breaking apart. This would mean that the North Sea might even be enough to do the job.

As this will be a gigantic landslide, the result would be an immense tsunami, you can wash away anything living near Netherlands in the process, if you so desire.

  • 3
    An artificial subduction zone would be just the thing. – Rick Moritz Jun 19 at 14:55

Yes, you would just need to simply slow the rotation of the earth (just not sure how).

The earth's equatorial radius is 6,378.1370 km while the polar radius is 6,356.7523 km, a difference of 21.3847 km just based on the earth's rotation! The Netherlands lies at latitudes ranging from 50.77083°-53.35917°, and using the location-dependent radii calculation for a point on a spheroid, I can calculate that sea level at The Netherlands is currently about 6364.4-6365.3 km from the center of the earth.

Now if we assume that the volumetric radius of 6,371.0008 km would be earth's radius to the center everywhere if it were to completely stop rotating, well then that'd put the shores of The Netherlands under 6 km of water. Being that's a bit excessive, stopping the earth's rotation shouldn't be necessary. Simply extending the length of day to ~36-48 hours should be sufficient, but YMMV.

  • 1
    Welcome to worldbuilding.SE! When you have a moment, please take our tour and visit our help center to learn more about us. This was a clever answer! Perhaps a bit impractical 😀, but we see useful ideas from the impractical all the time here. Thanks! – JBH Jun 19 at 20:18

Fault lines https://phys.org/news/2012-11-movement-fault-lines-netherlands-due.html

I don't know all the details, but here's a best guess.

There are clearly fault lines in the Netherlands, and one researcher claims its due to ground water. Also it has lots of rivers and water ways.

So you need an earthquake of extreme proportions to break the Netherlands off and sink it in the ocean. So you need to augment a regular earthquake with a major shift in the underground water.

Once an earthquake starts it would only takes minutes to tear the earth apart in that region.

The research further could not measure the crust exactly so there could still be hidden plate lines. He had to use a secondary technique documented in his PHD research paper.

So you will have to flood the earth, and crash the netherlands into the ocean/north sea. However, it turns out the north sea isn't super deep.

If you can wash it out as far as Faroe Island the ocean floor is 1000m deep in some areas and would be permanent.

ocean map

You might be able to find a suitable area closer, but I don't have the time to search every square inch to find a deep spot. Also you only need 1 spot deep enough to hold the mountains, the rest could be shallower.

Also if the netherlands start breaking off along the mountains, the mountains might just fall over into the hole, vastly reducing the total height needed.

Your best bet is a giant underground sink hole formed by eroding water. The majority of the Netherlands falls, and is now on the ocean floor. You could however, make your sink hole as deep as you want to fit the story. Also the mountain range could simple collapse with such an event and now you don't need 300m.

  • 1
    The fault lines we're talking about here are nothing like plate boundaries. They are local disturbances of the bedrock, but it's impossible that an earthquake could tear the crust apart so that a 300-meter hill could fall into the resulting hole. And there's no mechanism that could pull the landmass of the Netherlands offshore, because it's part of the same plate as the North Sea itself. – Schmuddi Jun 18 at 22:23
  • @Schmuddi it's also impossible to melt all the worlds ice in any useful or practical time span. Also even all of that isn't even enough water. Only hope is that the extra weight of the melted ice causes the mountain to sink. Either that or as the water gets deeper it causes other havok underground. – cybernard Jun 18 at 22:33
  • My point exactly – this is not possible. This is why for a question tagged as "science-based", LSerni's answer is the only correct one. – Schmuddi Jun 18 at 22:45

Limburg becomes independent or joins Belgium, as some have proposed. A newly militarised Germany conquers Gelderland and Overijssel. The Plattdüütsch dialect they traditionally speak there is almost German anyway. Now the highest point of the remaining Netherlands is only 69 meter above current sea level. You can make it a little lower with erosion. It may or may not be submerged if all the ice melts, perhaps one tiny island will remain, but at high tides and in storms it will be submerged, so habitable it will be not.

Really, you can only flood the entire Netherlands by redrawing the borders.

Yes and less than an hour with a meteorite impact.

The Netherlands have a distance North-South of 300 km and West-East 180 km. So to bury it completely you need something like the Chicxulub meteorite which killed the dinosaurs. It's just a rock with 10 km diameter hitting with cosmic speed.

When it hits the Earth, the ejected material will create a hole of several kilometers (!) depth. Apart from the fact that it will destroy just about anything in its vicinity (Germany, France) the North Sea connected to the Atlantic will rush in and fill the round hole formerly called Netherlands.

I am sure we can optimize the process by hitting only the highest part of Netherlands and let the dam breaking do the rest.

Think bigger:

There's not enough water if you melt all the ice, so you need to displace water from the low parts of the oceans to raise the sealevel further.

Start drilling large-diameter holes in the ocean floor and/or through islands or along the edge of continents until the magma in the Earth's mantle starts pouring out. This will raise the surface temperature of the planet and melt the various glaciers and the lava flowing into the ocean will displace water, raising the sea level further.

This will be expensive, but the melting point of tungsten is higher than the melting point of igneous rock, so you should be able to build the necessary equipment and perhaps even pipe the lava to the optimal location given a large enough budget.

Bonus points for offsetting the massive electricity bill from the drills with geothermal power plants.

Even more bonus points for setting up a sufficient quantity of drills to be able to flood the Netherlands in a matter of hours.

Extra, extra bonus points for creative use of weaponized lava against everyone who's undoubtedly going to be trying to stop you.

Also: Why stop with the Netherlands? Muahahahaha!

  • I like the "raise the floor" idea. – Willk Jun 20 at 11:10
  • The mantle is almost entirely solid. earthobservatory.sg/volcanoes-and-eruptions/… – id est laborum Jun 20 at 18:54
  • @idestlaborum The mantle temperature is above the surface melting point of the minerals it is made of. It is effectively solid due to being under enormous pressure from all the rock piled on top of it, but it's not completely solid. (The term for the level of solidity it has is "plastic".) Let the pressure off while avoiding dropping the temperature too much and it will liquefy almost instantly, at least in a localized area. (which will expand as the liquid is forced out by the pressure.) – Perkins Jun 20 at 21:43

Massive meltdown of the poles' ice will put an end to the Gulf Stream.

While the Netherlands will be busy trying to contain the sea's unstoppable rise, the weather in the northern hemisphere will turn toward a permanent ice age. Netherlands will be covered in a thick sheet of ice for a long, long time.

  • 1
    A collapse of the Gulf Stream will cause a decrease of the average temperature in the costal areas of Europe, but it will certainly not cause the start of a new ice age, leave alone a permanent one. – Schmuddi Jun 18 at 21:25
  • 1
    Furthermore, an ice age would cause the Netherlands to rise. It's currently sinking as the local plate rebounds from the previous ice age. The reason is that the ice puts a lot of weight on the Scandinavian countries. Those sink, but they're on the same plate as the Netherlands. Thus, when the Scandinavian countries sink, the Netherlands rise. And that ice age will hit Scandinavia harder. – MSalters Jun 20 at 10:52

Comets are outside of your control (in short time spans).

What you can control though are rockets and explosives.

You need to bring 2 rockets into earth orbit. One carries a Tsunami bomb and the other enough TNT to destroy the Vaalserberg. Follow this link to calculate the amount of TNT. Also, you want the heat shield to be able to protect the payload until earth surface impact.

Re-entry of both rockets should be carefully planned as you want the hill to be destroyed before the flood arrives. You might also need more than just one tsunami bomb carrying rocket.

The tsunami will destroy all sea defense in the Netherlands, flooding The Netherlands completely for a short period of time and partly flooded for a very good period of time (until the dikes are fixed and land is reclaimed).

So, it's not permanently entirely, but this is achievable.

If you're on a tight budget, you may be able to reduce costs by launching additional TNT carrying rockets addressing some of the other hills and reducing the explosive power of the tsunami bomb(s).

enter image description here image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_control_in_the_Netherlands

  • 2
    This won't work. The Vaalserberg is not a single peak that can simply be destroyed. It's part of a low mountain range that is on average between 160 and 200 meters above sea level. You can't level this landscape with a bomb, or any number of bombs, because it already has a relatively low profile. All you'd do is cover the area with a layer of debris. Eventually, because debris is not packed as compact as the rocks the mountain range currently consists of, you'd probably even increase the average raise of the area if you tried this. – Schmuddi Jun 18 at 21:35
  • At the end of the day, everything can be moved with explosive power. Just add rockets if one can't carry the amount of TNT required. – Christiaan Westerbeek Jun 18 at 21:46
  • 1
    Please keep in mind that this question is tagged as "science-based", which means that the OP is interested in answers that are "based on hard science, not magic or pseudo-science". I don't think that the scale of destruction and subsequent dispersion of the debris which is needed for what you propose can be achieved with current-age technology without magic or pseudo-science. – Schmuddi Jun 18 at 21:57
  • I missed that. I did do some research, but I recognize that this answer is not enough in that case. – Christiaan Westerbeek Jun 19 at 5:16
  • Maasdriel, of all places :-D – Onnonymous Jun 22 at 12:27

You Probably only Need a Meter or Two

According to Wikipedia, about 50% of the land mass of the Netherlands is within 1 meter of mean sea level. So if you were to suddenly raise the sea level by a little more than that, say about 2 meters, you'd have submerged the majority of the country.

The remaining bits are going to be islands or the new coastline of Northern Europe. In either case, the introduction salt water and tidal action are going to erode significant amounts of this land away. The salt water will kill off a lot of the plants, and without the root system the land will wash away into the sea.

Particularly elevated positions, like Vaalserberg will just take more time.

You'd need to ensure that you breached the initial layer of defenses, though, so to put a hole in the proverbial (literal?) dike, you could sabotage Maeslantkering. Particularly if there was a storm surge, failure of this system would cause significant flooding, and damage the flood defenses from the inside.

So probably the formula is:

  • Melt off enough glacial ice to raise sea level by ~2 meters as quickly as possible.
  • Break Maeslantkering.
  • Wait.
  • Damaging the Maeslantkering is not enough. Secondary defenses (dikes) will limit the damage. – Jan Doggen Jun 20 at 9:20
  • @JanDoggen - Are the secondary defenses going to be able to handle a rapid 2 meter sea level rise? And maybe some storm surge if you time it right? – codeMonkey Jun 20 at 14:12

The Earth's mantle contains a vast amount of water, probably of the same order as in all of the Earth's oceans. Since the average depth of the oceans is about 3.7 km, there is plenty of room to increase global sea-levels by 330 meters, if we can bring part of this water in the mantle to the Earth's surface.

Blue Goo Scenario

How about a variant on on the Grey Goo scenario! Scientists trying to create a new hydro-phobic material that automatically coats a surface slip up (pun intended) and create instead a self-replicating nano-machine that reacts with water.

Instead of consuming all matter the escaped, wildly reproducing nano-machines mix with water, causing extreme changes to surface tension, leading to the water sliding up walls, hills until everything is coated in about 6 inches of water.

I'll leave as an exercise to the writer justification for why the Blue Goo doesn't spread to the rest of the world.

This looks like a job for a mad scientist type super villain who plants super bombs under the high parts of the Netherlands and the Greenland and Antarctic icecaps.

It would probably take hundreds of super bombs miles beneath the highland parts of the Netherlands, each vaporizing about a cubic kilometer or cubic mile of rock. The vaporized rock will escape through some openings, perhaps created by especially powerful bombs, and many people will be burned to death by the super heated vapor. The unsupported hilly parts of the Netherlands will collapse into the giant cavern created by the bombs and will now be far below sea level.

Meanwhile the thousands or millions of super bombs beneath the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets with explode, vaporizing many cubic miles of ice that will later condense and rain down, and also starting the rest of the ice sheets sliding into the oceans, raising sea levels worldwide. The Netherlands will flood permanently, which will be a terrible disaster for any citizens of the Netherlands not already killed by other effects of the bombs. Millions and more likely billions of other people will die worldwide.

Or, the mad scientist super villain might want to make only the Netherlands suffer. If he can teleport a lot - I mean thousands of cubic miles at least - of matter he may be able to sink the Netherlands.

He can slowly teleport matter out from under the hills and high lands of the Netherlands, so that the high regions sink about an inch per hour or something, slow enough not to kill many people, so that most will live to experience the later flooding.

When the hills are down to the levels of the rest of the Netherlands, continue sinking them and also sink other regions, down to at least tens of feet or meters below sea level, and also below the level of neighboring regions in Belgium and Germany to limit the devastation to only the Netherlands. But don't sink the coastal regions yet.

As the Netherlands sinks, water from its rivers will pour into it and start filling it up, and as the Netherlands sinks farther, opening the sea dykes to let out the river water will do no good, since the sea level will be higher than the level of flooding from the rivers.

Then the super villain could start teleporting cubic miles of ice from Greenland or Antarctica into Lakes and rivers in the Netherlands where it will melt swiftly and add to the water levels.

When the coastal regions of the Netherlands are the last parts above water, then the super villain could use one or more atomic bombs to open large sections of the sea dykes and let the ocean flood in, while teleporting rock out from under the coastal regions to sink them below sea level too.

Thus the super villain may be able to sink all of the Netherlands and only the Netherlands permanently below the sea while minimizing the damage to the rest of the world and the number of non Dutch people killed.

And these are the only ways I can think of to flood the Netherlands while restricting the damage to the rest of the world. Other scenarios I can think of should be result in much more devastation world wide than in my first scenario.

Given that the moon causes tides would it not be possible to use gravity to pull water towards one part of the Earth hence why not position a very large and dense "moon" in geostationary orbit.

  • How would you keep it in a geostationary orbit? If it's heave to pull water on earth, I think it would be far enough to rotate or it would fall down to earth. Just my initial thoughts, haven't done the maths ;). Even if it rotates, if it pulls hard enough it might cause the Netherlands to be flooded for some time during its orbit, so up vote from me. :) – JJJ Jun 20 at 17:00

Step 1: Figure out how far you want this land mass to drop. (Yes. Going down.)

Step 2: honeycomb some amount of the ground with automated mining machines that place explosives as they go on the left-behind support structures that are holding everything up.

Step 3: Arrange a point to let the water in.

Step 4: boom.

Step 5: Let the water in.

  • Welocome to Worldbuilding, sh0rtwave! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Have fun! – FoxElemental Jun 20 at 20:23

The event you require is a significant tectonic movement of a large plate rising up from the ocean floor to displace enough water volume to raise the global sea level to the required height.

The volume required is approx 1×10^8 km^3 divided by the area of the pacific plate 103,300,000 km^2 gives an approx rise of 1 km required

Obviously this would be a "significant" event in the geological history of the planet.

or you could have smaller/multiple areas rising further in combination with the Antarctica ice getting at least dumped into the ocean (no need to melt it).

Note that the rising areas can go all the way to the surface creating new land masses.

Very "messy" obviously what with all the global quakes and tsunami even if done relatively slowly over several years.

I've got an idea, although it won't achieve what you need by itself. It's also not really science-based. It can and probably should be used in conjunction with the other answers though.

The idea is this: instead of only attempting to overwhelm Dutch hydroengineering, what about also taking the hydroengineering away from the Dutch?

Tides of Madness

An ancient aquatic doomsday cult has been lurking within Europe for centuries, secretly growing in strength as they bided their time. In the current era their tendrils extend across all segments of Dutch society, such that prominent politicians, generals, scientists and engineers are counted amongst their ranks. The cult's goal is to drown the Netherlands and eventually the entire world.

Cue your geological/meteorological event(your hard science answer). The cult sees this as a sign from the Elder Gods or whatever deity they worship that their long wait is over; it is finally time to strike. They launch a coordinated assault on the entire infrastructure that keeps the sea out. The sea wall is demolished, automated systems are swamped with viruses, cultist-farmers in the countryside attack the dikes, and so on.

The public figures among the cult members have a more specific part to play as well. The ruling coalition calls a press conference just so the Prime Minister can scream HAIL AZATHOTH! YOUR LOYAL SERVANTS AWAIT THEE! on camera. Since many/most of the top minds are also cultists, the Dutch infrastructure would turn out to have hidden weaknesses intentionally built in that now come to light in the worst way possible.

The unsuspecting Dutch public can of course act on their own initiative to save themselves, but the fear and paranoia sowed by the highly placed cultists will cripple their efforts. If your burgomeesters, your aldermen and even your neighbour Tim were secretly frothing madmen all along, then who can you trust? By the time they get their act together, it will be too late. A giant tsunami or whatever kill screen you had intended finishes the job.

Move the Moon

Deluge S.A. is enviromental friendly company and that's why our flooding solution don't relies in global warm nor ice chunks from space bombardement.

Instead we use fine relocation of the Moon to provide almost instantaneous flash floods for your needs. We will provide a circular area floded anywhere on the globe and at almost any height.

Use a Black Hole

Deluge S.A. aways seeking innovation just lanched a new product in the marketing. We are lauching geo stationary satellites with a black hole generator capable of generating a BH with the same mass of the Moon (check specs). We are now able to provide globaly multiple services at the same time. (Also we stop that lousy Astranomers complains about getting the Moon out of orbit). And don't worry those BH are not hitting the Earth grats to our exclusive handiwanium engines, we guarantee it or give your money back!

there's the Earth way and there's the apocalyptic way, how far do you want this scenario to go? if a meteor where to fall into the pacific ocean, a sufficiently big one, the resulting tsunamis would create waves hundreds of feet high, it would create a Dinosaur scale kind of event, all the ice in the world would melt and as the tsunami arrives through the poles to the Atlantic the waves would have barely slowed down, it would inundate hundreds of miles into the mainland before it recedes, but as all the ice in the world would have melted and big chunks of the ocean would have been evaporated it would create mayhem as a global rain would start for a few months, all coastal areas would be lost world wide and the sun would be blocked, after some more months (the time its depending on the size of your meteor) global temperatures would plummet and the Netherlands would be under a large ice cap as well as most of Europe making it permanently uninhabitable for a few millennia.

Heat the planet by several degrees, so that the thermal expansion of the oceans raises the surface sufficiently. Haven't done the math -- but Curt Stager did cover it thoroughly in his book Deep Future. My best recollection was that he was predicting something like an >80 ft surface level rise from melting all ice, plus ocean warming. Not 330 meters. So we need a lot more thermal expansion to get every last bit of your target under water.

There is the wild card of the methane hydrates in all the permafrost, releasing geologic storehouses of methane, which is something like 25 times stronger at boosting temperature than CO2. Still, I think Stager might have proposed something like 200 ft rise from that? Not sure. Actually, I think he mostly warned that with methane hydrate meltdown, all bets are off, and the last time we had no surface ice, half of North American was covered by a shallow inland ocean.

Anyway, the trick seems to me thermal change, not some wild-hair notion of pulling in water from comets, much less from (dry!) meteorites.

From easiest to hardest:

1) Build a dam across the strait of Gibraltar and the Sun will drain the Mediterranean. Takes a while though. The Black Sea and the Caspian soon follow.

2) Do the same to the Tigris, Euphrates and the Persian Gulf.

3) Dam the Bearing Strait and re-route the Arctic rivers and the Arctic Ocean will lower somewhat.

4) Also, to seriously melt the ice caps you'll need to release some GHG. Methane's great, but if you burn it you get water too! To do some serious damage you'll need to burn the Methane hydrates under water.

I dunno how much water that'll be... but I'm sure it'll be a bad day in Amsterdam. 

As long as you don't mind pulverizing another continent, you can do it.

Australia isn't very far above sea level, so let's consider south america. SA has an average elevation of about 2300m.

The surface area of SA is 17840000 km^2. So the volume of south america above sea level is: 17,840,000km^2 * 2.3km = 41,032,000km^3

The surface area of the earth is 510,072,000km^2. Assume for ease of calculation that the all of the land outside of south america is exactly at sea level, so that any raise in sea level will cover them completely. This isn't true, of course, but this will give us a lower bound for how much we'll raise the sea level.

We pulverize all of south america above sea level and we dump the rubble into the ocean. This will raise the sea level by at least 41,032,000km^3 / 510,072,000km2 = 0.08km = 80m.

You can get the upper bound by assuming that none of the other continents get flooded at all. In this case, we divide the rubble volume the area of the ocean. This gives us 41,032,000km^3 / 360,000,000 km^2 = 114m.

The real rise in sea level would be somewhere between 80-114m.

However, I don't think you could pulverize most of any continent without causing so much damage to the environment that flooding the netherlands (and deliberately destroying the better part of a continent) would be the least of your worries.

To achieve the sea-level increase as quickly as possible, consider removing some of the ice shelves around the Antarctic continent. Throw in some below-ground heating to lubricate things, and the whole ice cap just slides off.

Firstly, this creates a really big tsunami.

Secondly. as soon as the sliding ice starts to float, it displaces its own weight. The sea-level rise post-tsunami is quick and permanent.

  • 1
    In the question you can see calculations that show how melting all of the ice would not help. If you disagree, explain why and how. If you agree, then this is not an answer to the question as asked. – Mołot Jun 19 at 20:34
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review – Gryphon Jun 19 at 21:06
  • @Gryphon, why does this not provide an answer? It could use to fleshing out, but it's clever. Let's ignore the ice. The basic procedure is to cause a tsunami that overwhelms the Netherlands' sea walls and inundates the land. I agree with Molot that the displacement part wouldn't work as you'd need to raise the entire ocean level, but the tsunami part is interesting. – JBH Jun 19 at 21:22
  • 1
    @JBH it does not provide an answer because question shows that melting all the ice and dumping it into ocean does not flood Netherlands. And tsunami is in no way permanent, another requirement in the question. This post shows how to do things OP pretty explicitly did not want. – Mołot Jun 20 at 7:36

Your Answer


By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.