Thursday, February 18, 2010

Belfast city centre could be under water by end of century

Linda Stewart in the Belfast Telegraph: Belfast city centre could be hit by regular floods by the end of the century, according to stark new climate change predictions released by Friends of the Earth. It would mean Northern Ireland’s economic heart could no longer function in the way it does today — while people living in residential areas surrounding the city centre could be left floundering, unable to afford insurance premiums or to move away.

…The flood maps suggest the City Hall would be surrounded, forming an island in the floodwaters. Residential areas most at risk from floods resulting from rising sea levels and increased rainfall would include the Markets, the Lower Ormeau, Lower Ravenhill, Lower Newtownards Road, Short Strand, Shore Road, Titanic Quarter, Orangefield, Sydenham, the Lower Falls and Grosvenor Road, according to Friends of the Earth and the Town and Country Planning Association, who are hosting a major climate change conference today.

According to the latest climate science, submitted to the Copenhagen conference and reviewed by Friends of the Earth, Belfast could experience an 80m sea level rise by the end of the century.

This, combined with high rainfall events, storm surges and a spring tide means that by 2100, what is today considered to be a 1 in 100 year flood event would occur every four years, while today's 1 in 50 year event would occur annually. As it is, the maps are based on quite outdated science, so the reality could be even worse, with regular floods of Titanic Quarter and the Odyssey Arena, according to Friends of the Earth's Northern Ireland climate campaigner Declan Allison….

1909 map of the docks Belfast, from the British Admiralty

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