Monday, January 18, 2010

Developers in Abu Dhabi plan to keep the sea at bay

Loveday Morris in the National (Abu Dhabi): With hundreds of billions of dirhams invested in developing the capital’s low-lying, sandy islands, prudent measures have been taken to ensure the landmark projects do not one day disappear under the sea. Abu Dhabi’s 2030 plan shows an idyllic archipelago, with arched bridges stretching across still, turquoise waters, joining eco-villages and residential zones to cultural landmarks and the lofty towers of the financial district.

But much of the natural land earmarked for development lies at less than two metres above sea level, meaning defences are essential, especially in light of increasingly pessimistic data on the extent sea levels may rise. Last week, a report commissioned by the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi said the UAE could lose up to six per cent of its populated and developed coastline by the end of the century because of rising sea levels, and unless adequate planning is taken the economic impact will be “unacceptably high”.

According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, the average global sea level may rise by as much as 1.9 metres before 2100, much more than previous forecasts. From ambitious land-raising projects to sea walls and barriers, safeguards against the impact of climate change must be considered by any coastal development.

The Abu Dhabi 2030 plan states: “The emerging reality of global warming and its potential to raise sea levels means all new waterfront development should be planning for higher water levels at their edge.”…

Abu Dhabi viewed from the International Space Station, NASA

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