Sunday, September 14, 2008

Amid rising seas, a California modeling effort recommends abandoning land tracts in the Sacramento Delta

Technology Review: A new multidisciplinary modeling effort concludes that certain tracts of land in California's Sacramento Delta should be abandoned the next time they flood, and that major California water-supply inlets in the area should be rerouted. The study indicates the kind of land-preservation and infrastructure triage that will become increasingly necessary in the face of rising sea levels and climate change.

"It's always difficult and controversial to look at these kinds of things," says Jay Lund, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of California, Davis, who co-led the study. "For those delta landowners where the policy has been historically to help them--they would be losers. But I don't see any way they are not going to be losers, so the state policy should be that we all quit losing." This week, Lund spoke about the study at a California Energy Commission conference on climate-change research, held in Sacramento.

The Sacramento Delta is where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers converge with each other and meet incoming salt water from the San Francisco Bay. The area is a source of fresh water for agribusiness and more than 20 million Californians. Within the delta, tracts of land have been reclaimed over the past century, mostly for farming. Earthen levees--which, if put end to end, would stretch more than 1,000 miles--keep water-supply inlets fresh and reclaimed areas dry...

The Sacramento River Delta, mapped by Matthew Trump, Wikimedia Commons,
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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