Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sea Level Rise

Google map showing Sea Level Rise aroung the world. You can set it to various meters worth of rise to see what the effects will be. In the US - besides Florida - North Carolina and Louisiana won't fare very well.

...other maps

...more maps

What is affected with 1 meter of rise (what scientists are currently predicting for this century)? The Netherlands.... Bangladesh... Thailand... Alaksa.... (actually for those places - change is here....)

From Greenpeace "...according to the UK Royal Society a one metre sea level rise could flood 17 percent of Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, displacing tens of millions of people and reducing its rice-farming land by 50 percent."

For more, see this article,
Sea-level rise in Bangladesh and The Netherlands, One phenomenon, many consequences" ....from Germanwatch.

The Maldives have been getting hit...."With only a one metre sea level rise some island nations, such as the Maldives, would be submerged. Already, two of the islands that make up Kiribati (a Pacific island nation) have gone under the waves, and in early 2005 others were inundated by a high spring tide that washed away farmland, contaminated wells with saltwater, and flooded homes and a hospital."

From Salon "Many of the 33 islands that make up the Republic of Kiribati are facing severe erosion. On Tarawa, MacKenzie says, a long causeway connecting the main part of Tarawa to the islet of Betio has had the effect of changing the circulation in the lagoon and, subsequently, the shape of the coastline. He also says that on Tarawa and the outer islands, manmade sea walls often have the unintended consequence of pushing sand away from the beaches, weakening an important buffer against tidal surge.

But sea walls and causeways are, unfortunately, minor players compared with the greater force affecting the people of Kiribati: global climate change.

MacKenzie authored a World Bank report on the social impacts of climate change here, and he directs the Kiribati branch of the University of South Pacific. He says that in addition to noticing the erosion, people have begun complaining of hotter temperatures, less variety and quantity of fish, changes in wind patterns, and the contamination of fresh groundwater by saltwater from the Pacific Ocean -- evidence of rising sea levels.

A previous World Bank report found that up to 80 percent of North Tarawa, as well as more than 50 percent of the densely populated South Tarawa, could be under water by 2050 as a result of global warming. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which represents the consensus on climate science, agrees that Kiribati is highly vulnerable. Stretching over 2.1 million square miles of ocean midway between Australia and Hawaii, Kiribati comprises only 504 square miles of land, making the country less than half the size of Rhode Island. The IPCC report predicts that a one-meter rise in sea level could wipe out 63 of those square miles.

Sea-level rise is "by far the greatest threat to small island states," according to the IPCC, and due to rising sea levels, "beach erosion and coastal land loss, inundation, flooding, and salinization of coastal aquifers and soils will be widespread."


Rising seas, sinking land threaten Thai capital

KHUN SAMUT CHIN, Thailand (AP) -- At Bangkok's watery gates, Buddhist monks cling to a shrinking spit of land around their temple as they wage war against the relentlessly rising sea.

A Thai Buddhist monk walks along a dam constructed to hold back the approaching sea.

During the monsoons at high tide, waves hurdle the breakwater of concrete pillars and the inner rock wall around the temple on a promontory in the Gulf of Thailand. Jutting above the water line just ahead are remnants of a village that has already slipped beneath the sea.

Experts say these waters, aided by sinking land, threaten to submerge Thailand's sprawling capital of more than 10 million people within this century. Bangkok is one of 13 of the world's largest 20 cities at risk of being swamped as sea levels rise in coming decades, according to warnings at the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change held here.

"This is what the future will look like in many places around the world," says Lisa Schipper, an American researcher on global warming, while visiting the temple. "Here is a living study in environmental change."...

"If the heart of Thailand is under water everything will stop," says Smith Dharmasaroja, chair of the government's Committee of National Disaster Warning Administration. "We don't have time to move our capital in the next 15-20 years. We have to protect our heart now, and it's almost too late."...

"You notice that every highway, road and building which has no foundation pilings is sinking," says Smith. "We feel that with the ground sinking and the sea water rising, Bangkok will be under sea water in the next 15 to 20 years -- permanently."

Once known as the "Venice of the East," Bangkok was founded 225 years ago on a swampy floodplain along the Chao Phraya River. But beginning in the 1950s, on the advice of international development agencies, most of the canals were filled in to make roads and combat malaria. This fractured the natural drainage system that had helped control Bangkok's annual monsoon season flooding.

"It's the only city in the world where a car has collided with a boat," says Smith, recalling a deluge where residents commuted by rickety boats down roads flanked by high-rises.

As head of Thailand's meteorological department in 1998, Smith warned with little success that the country's southwest coast could face a deadly tsunami. He was proven right.

He urges that work start now on a dike system of more than 60 miles -- protective walls about 16 feet high, punctured by water gates and with roads on top, not unlike the dikes long used in low-lying Netherlands to ward off the sea. The dikes would run on both banks of the Chao Phraya River and then fork to the right and left at the mouth of the river...

About half a mile of shoreline has already been lost over the past three decades, in large part due to the destruction of once vast mangrove forests. The abbot, Somnuk Attipanyo, says about a third of the village's original population was forced to move.

The top of a broken concrete water storage tank protrudes from the muddy sea, which swirls around rows of electricity pylons and telephone polls now stuck offshore.

The monastery grounds are less than a tenth of their original size, and the waterlogged temple is regularly lashed by waves that have forced the monks to raise its original floor by more than three feet. Among a group of villagers attending morning prayers at the temple, 45-year-old shrimp farmer Rakiet Phinlaphak looks toward the watery horizon from the promontory and says, "I have seen the sea rising higher since I was a child."

And from Alaska....

"Arctic Alaska villages caught in slow-motion disaster onslaught"

GLOBAL WARMING: Spiraling costs to move imperiled coastal communities pit needs against limited resources.

The cost of relocating villages that face extinction in the next decade or so -- sooner if the wrong storm hits the wrong place at the wrong time -- is staggering. Even by Alaska standards.

• Moving Newtok, a Bering Sea coast town of 315 being squished and swamped by two rivers, could cost as much as $130 million. Or $412,000 per person.

• Moving Shishmaref, a strip of sand in the Chukchi Sea that's home to about 600 people, could cost as much as $200 million. Or $330,000 per person.

• Moving Kivalina, a shrinking barrier island in the Chukchi that last month saw most of its 380 residents run for safety from the season's first storm, could cost as much as $125 million. Or $330,000 per person.

Meanwhile, millions more are needed to protect people and facilities threatened by catastrophic erosion until they move....

"These communities are at the front line of global warming and we have to be cognizant of two factors. One is, they were here before the bulk of the rest of us were. And also, what we decide to do there is going to set precedents and trends for how we're going to react to the same issues on thousands of miles of coastline in the rest of the country."

In Newtok, state and federal grants are being piecemealed together to gradually move the town to a safer location. The village is pitching in, too, with labor and money.

It negotiated a land trade to acquire a new town site on Nelson Island, and in 2000 the Newtok Traditional Council hired a contractor to help plan the move. Residents are currently building a couple of homes at the new site, but they don't have all the heavy equipment they need.

Tom said one of the biggest obstacles is the lack of a single agency or group to be in charge of planning. Stevens said it's imperative to choose a single agency for that job -- and to give it authority over others when it comes to making and carrying out plans.

Meanwhile, Cox said, three groups -- the Corps of Engineers, Village Safe Water and DOT -- are working together in Newtok...

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