Saturday, September 3, 2005

RISING SEA LEVELS AND REBUILDING

While we're deciding whether to rebuild New Orleans I think we need to take rising sea levels into account. Even a one foot rise in sea levels over the next century would put any rebuilt city at risk from a weaker storm than Katrina. I'm not sure that even Dutch style sea walls would guaranty protection from a storm like Katrina

Back in the mid nineties the northwest had a much wetter winter than usual. Much wetter. As in more than twice the average rain fall. When we went to visit one of our favorite beaches we discovered it was almost sand free. And that was with the sealevels we have now.

Oregon beaches tend to have slope to them. The beach strip on our coast isn't very wide and it gets narrower as you move north. As you go north the stretches of cliffs get taller and the distances between the beaches between the headlands get smaller. Often we're lucky if the beach is fifty yards or so wide and that's at LOW tide. If a rise of a foot or so in the sea level puts our sloping beaches at risk imagine what it will do to Miami or other sections of the Gulf Coast. And since there is limited land for building, towns tend to be small. I'd guess that we're looking at perhaps a hundred thousand people or so for the whole Oregon coast.

Oregon may not be the most "happening" of places but most of it well above sea level. Our biggest risk is probably from earthquake related flooding. I'm not sure how far a large tsunami could go up the Columbia river and I know I don't want to find out. Now if we could just figure out how to predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

2 comments:

hope5555 said...

I hope that this whole catastrophe will cause people to start seriously talking about rising sea levels, melting ice caps, global warming, the need for "real" science to start being taught in our schools!

lisaram1955 said...

I have two words for where Katrina came from:  Climate change.  Maybe we will get a clue now...instead of continuning to listen to mealy-mouthed Mr. Bush pontificating that we have to "study the problem."  I'm sure we'll be done studying it around January 20 of 2009...  Lisa  :-]