[Question] What would happen if all the water on Earth were accumulated into spheres & drop on the surface?

I was in­spired by the APOD pic­tures and dis­cus­sion here and here. The con­di­tions for the ‘ex­per­i­ment’ are:

  • For some mys­te­ri­ous rea­son, all the wa­ter on Earth (minus that in liv­ing things—the bio­sphere) sud­denly & im­me­di­ately con­verges into 17 iden­ti­cal sphere and let to drop down to the land be­low right away.

  • The places of those wa­ter balls are the cen­ters of 17 biggest tec­tonic plates as listed here.

  • The bot­toms of the huge balls just touch the high­est points on the ground there. Also from my calcu­la­tion, which may be wrong, their ra­dius is 258 km.

  • The ISS is cur­rently at its high­est al­ti­tude of 460 km with ship(s) in dock.

So, what will hap­pen to us, the Earth and things on it?

My pre­dic­tion is very grim for hu­man­ity, thus I turn to the ISS as our last hope. Sup­posed that at t=0, the as­tro­nauts can choose the sta­tion’s di­rec­tion of fly­ing. Can they avoid all the 17 fal­ling balls? Is there any chance they can land back on Earth with­out any help from Hous­ton when things set­tle down, in case the wa­ter does set­tle down and not all turn into va­por? (That’s a pos­si­bil­ity I can’t calcu­late and will need your help).

I’m look­ing for an­swers in xkcd style, which IMO is a text­book way to re­spond to ab­surd “What if?” ques­tions. It’s de­tailed, with nice pic­tures to help our imag­i­na­tion, dis­play­ing for­mu­las when nec­es­sary but also very rookie-friendly, tackle the prob­lem from many differ­ent an­gles & POVs, and takes into ac­count some easy-to-over­look stuffs. Too bad he doesn’t an­swer any­more.

Any­way, thank you just for read­ing! :)

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