A recent United Nations report on climate change has confirmed what scientists around the world have been warning for years: sea levels will remain elevated for thousands of years due to continuing deep ocean warming and ice sheet melt. The report indicates that it is “unavoidable for centuries to millennia,” making sea level rise a long-term threat that must be addressed.
The slow and gradual nature of sea level rise has made it a threat that people can easily ignore. However, as Mark Merrifield, director of the Scripps Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, points out, “Over time, it is just undeniable. The measurements all say the same thing. The glaciers are melting and the ice sheets.” This is a warning that should not be taken lightly, especially since approximately 30% of Americans live in communities near coastlines.
Below is the Google Earth Screenshot of Manhattan in recent days:
And here is simulated image of Manhattan that shows how storm surge, which is an abnormal rise in sea level caused by a storm, compounded by expected sea level rise would impact much of the city’s coastline and be particularly bad on lower Manhattan’s eastern side:
It will only get worst will the Sea level rise is left unchecked. There are number of ways that we can consider to mitigate the disastrous water level rise. Let’s dive into them.
Adapting to Sea Level Rise
The good news is that there are ways to adapt to sea level rise. One of the most effective strategies is to harden infrastructure, as evidenced by the construction of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project in New York City. The 2.5-mile long, 16.5-feet-tall sea wall is designed to protect the city from storm surge and rising sea levels, which are projected to increase by 10-14 inches by 2050 on the East Coast alone. The floodgates, which are open for people to pass through until there’s an emergency, slide shut when the wall is needed to keep out storm surge.
Revert to Nature
Restoring natural defenses is another way to adapt to sea level rise. This is happening at the dunes and wetlands of Ormond Beach in Oxnard, California, where the Nature Conservancy is leading a project to restore the size of the marsh and create a larger buffer space for floodwaters. This involves buying up surrounding land, including an adjacent power plant, and returning the land to its natural state.
The Importance of Adaptation
As sea levels continue to rise, it is becoming increasingly clear that adaptation is essential. This is an issue that affects not only New York City and Oxnard, but coastal cities all over the world. According to Daniel Zarrilli, special adviser on climate and sustainability at Columbia University, “It’s really an existential risk to coastal cities all over the world to think about how to adapt and where we build, how we build it. It raises some fundamental questions of what our shorelines look like, what our coastlines look like.”
The Future of Sea Level Rise
Despite the efforts being made to adapt to sea level rise, the fact remains that it is a problem that will persist for thousands of years. This means that future generations will have to contend with the consequences of the actions taken today. However, by taking steps to adapt to sea level rise, we can help to mitigate the worst effects and create a more sustainable future.
In conclusion, the recent UN report on climate change has confirmed what scientists have been warning for years: sea levels will remain elevated for thousands of years due to continuing deep ocean warming and ice sheet melt. This is a long-term threat that must be addressed, and adapting to sea level rise is essential. While there are many ways to adapt to sea level rise, the most effective strategies involve hardening infrastructure and restoring natural defenses. It is an issue that affects not only New York City and Oxnard, but coastal cities all over the world, and it is essential that we take steps to address it today.