Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Surging Seas

A fascinating map by shows the areas expected to be inundated by rising seas.  It is an interactive map so you can set various parameters and get different views - political, population, etc.  By holding down the left mouse button, you can "grab" the map and move it around to survey the area or state.

For California, the map is here:

What you notice for California is the SF Bay area and up to Sacramento are most at risk.  So. Cal. not very much.  The most at risk area in the South Bay is land near the bay that was filled in and should not have been.  This is due to a 3 foot rise in sea level.  Of course, in the event of a storm there could be unexpected rises over the average.
A 3 foot rise in sea level
If you ever get up to Redwood Shores you may find yourself wondering why anyone would buy one of those nice homes a foot or so above the water. (see below)
Redwood Shores
The most surprising to me was the area inland towards Sacramento.  If things go as projected, Sacramento and Stockton could be receiving container shipments from China, as Oakland is now (admittedly, dredging would be needed).

A 3 foot rise in sea level
A sea wall has been suggested.  It is a terrible idea and won't work.  For one thing, a glance at the map shows it would have to be incredibly huge and with cost overruns and corruption (same thing, really) we can't afford it.  More importantly, it won't be needed most of the time so it will be neglected until all of a sudden a big storm reminds us that "Oops! Maybe we should invest in infrastructure, after all!"  Just as the levees around New Orleans were poorly constructed and neglected before Hurricane Katrina.  C.f.

(photo from )
Having levees around New Orleans was worse than if there had been no levees as they gave a false sense of security.  See:

What will happen is the govt. flood insurance co. will buy out people in danger of flooding or refuse to insure them so they have to sell - maybe at a loss.  Here is a video on that happening now in Staten Island, one of NYC's boroughs.
Photo from "New Yorker" video of Staten Island homes being abandoned
California won't get the massive devastation of New Orleans or Staten Island because we don't get hurricanes (though that could change).  But it will be difficult or impossible to get a mortgage or flood insurance after the first few floodings due to storms reveal a pattern.

Here's a photo of a Staten Island home after Hurricane Sandy.

For other areas of the US see: