Sunday, June 01, 2014

Mayor Can't Think About Moving His Whole City Due to Rising Sea

From a Washington Post article on rising sea-level in Norfolk, Virginia:
"'We don’t like being the poster child for climate change,' said the Rev. Jennifer Slade [of the Unitarian Church of Norfolk].... 'I don’t know many churches that have to put the tide chart on their Web site' so people know whether they can get to church."
Norfolk sits on the east coast sea-level hotspot, where land subsidence of 0.12 inches a year (3.0 mm/yr) is adding to the global rise of the ocean. The mayor is, for now, avoiding the hard questions:
Put it all together, as VIMS (Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences) scientists did when they were asked by the General Assembly to study recurrent flooding in tidewater Virginia, and models suggest tides ranging from 1 1/2 feet to 7 1/2 feet higher by 2100.

Five and a half feet represents “business as usual,” a vision of the future without “significant efforts by the world’s nations to curb greenhouse gases,” the report said. “Recent trends in Virginia sea levels suggest we are on [this] curve.”

Larry Atkinson, an oceanographer who is co-director of the Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative at Old Dominion University, said when the mayor was asked about the report, he waved away the question. “He says, ‘I can’t think about five feet. What do you want me to do, move the whole city?’ ”
Yes, some parts of the city will have to be moved. Or just abandoned.

In some places, adaptation is going to get ugly, and people are starting to get that.


dave said...

Thanks for this link to a very informative source.

Like much of the original Norfolk, its namesake in Virginia appears to be largely low-lying and very vulnerable to the sea level rise expected over coming centuries as ice caps melt.

Where the land is more hilly, even in seaports many built-up areas will remain above sea level, but harbours, access roads and railways will need to be rebuilt so major disruption.

Replacing necessary infrastructure will be a major undertaking at a time when resources will be under strain and the need for sustainable techniques with low carbon impact becomes more evident. Hard to see how these requirements can be achieved under likely circumstances.

David Appell said...

Thanks Dave. Yea, it will be interesting to see how infrastructure is replaced, in the coming era where sea level is quite obviously not static, and how it's built so it doesn't need to be rebuilt again 50 years later. At some point people will be going to beaches while knowning they won't be there in a few more decades. That would be a strange feeling.

Frank1123581321 said...

Subsidence doesn't increase GLOBAL sea level rise. Subsidence is a local phenomena. Subsidence (3 mm/yr) + global sea level rise (about 3 mm/yr) + other local phenomena = local mean sea level rise. Tides change sea level by about 1000 mm twice day. Northeasters add a storm surge of 1000 mm (every few years) to 2000 mm (every few decades) to the sea level in Norfolk. The only thing that is currently new in recent decades an 1 additional mm of global sea level rise every year.