Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New wave of planning for coastal zones

PhysOrg describes an event that had interesting material on Venice as well as San Diego: Among the traits they share in common -- proximity to the coast, popularity among tourists, renowned, painterly light -- Venice, Italy, and San Diego also share one all-too-disturbing similarity: They are both in considerable danger if climate change leads to a predicted rise in sea levels.

At the most recent installment of an ongoing series of Greenovation Forums at the University of California, San Diego, a panel of experts warned of the potential threats to both cities and discussed ongoing methods for mitigating and adapting to risks posed by climate change and rising ocean levels.

Titled "Rising Seas: Adaptation Strategies for Coastal Bays and Lagoons," the forum was held last week at the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) and featured speakers Christina Nasci, a research associate with both the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at UCSD and a marine biologist with the Environment and Territory Division at the Venice-based Thetis S.P.A.; Sam Iacobellis, a research specialist and senior lecturer at SIO; and Michelle White, manager of the Green Port Program for the Port of San Diego.

Nasci's presentation to a standing-room-only audience painted a disconcerting yet hopeful portrait of an ancient city under siege by its surrounding waters. She said that over time, changes in sea levels, land subsidence, erosion and wave motion have caused more frequent and intense floodwaters in Venice, resulting in near-daily flooding in the lowest-lying zones of the city during the autumn and winter months.

… the pace of adaptive measures has been stepped up, most recently with the creation of a major intervention plan by the Venice Water Authority that called for the restoration of wetlands using dredged sediments, as well as the construction of a Mose system of mobile flood barriers that can be activated for tides higher than 110 cm (and up to 2 meters). Nasci said that since the plan was established in 1992, 11 square kilometers of wetlands have been restored, and work on the Mose barriers (a system of submerged gates installed in the seabed along ocean inlets) will be complete in 2014….

A view from the San Marco tower, shot by Alex1011, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic

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