Norfolk, VA deals with sea level rise
“The fact is that there is not enough engineering to go around to mitigate the rising sea” – Jim Schultz from “Front-Line City in Virginia Tackles Rise in Sea”, NYT 11/25/2010
Sea level rise and coastal management were the focus of a NY Times article, Front-Line City in Virginia Tackles Rise in Sea, which appeared this past Thursday. This article might be getting a lot of attention because of the United Nations Climate Change Conference happening in Cancun this week, but it’s always good to see some attention to a major topic that effects coastal communities. The article points out that sea level rise is a real problem in Norfolk, VA and floods are a common occurrence after rains and during a high tide. If you’ve never been to Norfolk, it is surrounded by water, and like many coastal towns along the US east coast, it is built on filled in wetlands. While the article acknowledges that the fill is compacting and the town is sinking, it highlights a situation which may become more common if sea level rise estimates come true in the coming years.
“Along the Atlantic, 60 percent of the coastline that sits less than three feet above sea level has been opened for new houses, hotels, businesses, and roads. (By contrast, only 10 percent has been set aside for conservation.)“
Whether or not you believe in sea-level rise, the state of California does, and on November 14, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Executive Order S-13-08 to create statewide consistency in planning for sea level rise. The executive order calls for, among other things, the completion of a Sea Level Rise Assessment Report, the consideration of sea level rise scenarios for the years 2050 and 2100, and the development of a Climate Adaptation Strategy. Consistent with the executive order, the governing board of the Coastal Conservancy adopted interim sea level rise rates (Adopted June 4, 2009): (a) 16 inches (40 cm) by 2050; and (b) 55 inches (140 cm) by 2100 for use in reviewing the vulnerability of projects it funds. (lifted from “A report of sea level rise preparedness” from the California State lands commission).