Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Preparing for the flood: Visualizations help communities plan for sea-level rise

20.02.2012
Researchers at the University of British Columbia have produced computer visualizations of rising sea levels in a low-lying coastal municipality, illustrating ways to adapt to climate change impacts such as flooding and storms surges.

The researchers are working with a municipality south of Vancouver, Canada that is surrounded by water on three sides and is expecting the sea-level to rise by 1.2 metres by 2100 – a change that would affect a number of waterfront homes, inland suburban developments, roads and farmland.


The municipality of Delta, B.C. is a low-lying coastal community surrounded by water on three sides. Credit: CALP

Considerable infrastructure has been built below current and projected high water levels, and could be inundated in the event of a dike breach. The images produced show how different adaptation strategies that could be implemented in the municipality and are being used to help make decisions about how to best prepare for the future.

"To me, the visualizations are the only way that you can tell the complete story of climate change and its impacts in a low-lying coastal community," says David Flanders, a UBC research scientist with the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP), who will present this research at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver on Sunday. "In other words, seeing really is believing in this case."

"It can be hard to mentally grasp what rising sea-levels can mean on the ground but our visualizations give people a glimpse of what their future world will look and feel like in their own backyards. They help community members understand how their quality of life can be affected by climate change, and by the decisions they make to deal with climate impacts."

BACKGROUND

The municipality of Delta, B.C. is in an agricultural region with a population of about 100,000 (Fig. 1). Historically, the municipality has used dykes to protect the land from flooding and tides – a common strategy used by coastal communities.

New provincial guidelines for the construction of new homes have more than doubled the recommended finished floor elevation to compensate for rising high water lines. Similarly, the guidelines for sea dike construction have increased considerably, in some cases suggesting a top-of-wall more than two times their current elevation above mean sea level.

Working with the municipality, Flanders and his colleagues at CALP have created visualizations of sea-level rise in Delta and four alternate scenarios that show different ways Delta could adapt. These were constructed using a cutting-edge 3D geovisualization process that integrates climate modeling scenarios, inundation modeling, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, land use and urban design.

Visualizations of higher water levels in Delta portray what would happen to the community if it does nothing to prepare for climate change (Fig. 2).

"Combine the sea-level rise with bigger storms, more wind, more waves and high-tide and that's an enormous amount of water," says Flanders.

The four alternate scenarios show Delta over the next century where the municipality adopts various strategies to prepare for sea-level rise including: raising the dikes ("Hold The Line," Fig. 3); building offshore barrier islands to absorb the impact of incoming storms ("Reinforce and Reclaim," Fig 4); moving parts of the community out of the floodplain and on to higher ground ("Managed Retreat," Fig. 5); and reducing vulnerability through design by raising homes, roads and critical infrastructure above the floodplain ("Build Up," Fig. 6).

The visualizations packages not only show what the region could look at the end of the century but also takes into account other important factors like the cost of each solution for the municipality, the cost to individual property owners, and the trade-offs between protecting roads, habitat, homes, waterfront views and agricultural production.

"What is becoming evident is that there is no single, perfect solution. Each alternative pathway has trade-offs associated with it, and this planning process has been very effective at communicating those trade-offs, and assessing acceptability," says Flanders.

"Communities will have to decide what their priorities are, and likely plan for a mosaic of different solutions, because each neighbourhood has its own set of concerns and its own idea of what will be possible. This visioning process can help inform these kinds of tough decisions that many low-lying communities will have to make over the next 20, 50 and 100 years."

To produce the visualizations, Flanders is working with other landscape planning researchers at CALP, climate scientists on the climate forecasts, coastal engineers who can calculate what water will do during a storm when it slams against the dikes, land-use planners who know current policies and how strategies could potentially roll-out on the ground, and a working group of members of the public. These participants helped to build the scenarios and assess their acceptability.

Flanders and his colleagues have begun to show these visualizations to city planners and engineers, local elected officials, and members of the community. He notes that "many individuals seeing the images for the first time had a very emotional response."

The work borrows from international precedents, but CALP is unique in combining visualization, stakeholder input, and evaluation of results comprehensively in the Delta study.

"Other communities around the globe could gain insight from this on how to address their own local concerns, whether it's sea level rise, forest fire risk, changing snow pack, or other issues."

CONTACT:

David Flanders
Research Scientist, Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning
Adjunct Faculty, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Tel: 604.328.3448
Email: david.flanders@ubc.ca
Heather Amos
UBC Public Affairs
Cell: 604.828.3867
Email: heather.amos@ubc.ca
[NB: Flanders is participating in a AAAS news briefing on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. PST at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Room 223-224. He is available for embargoed interviews anytime on Friday morning, Saturday evening at the annual Compass Marine Mixer (6:30 - 9 p.m. at the Pan Pacific Hotel (Chrystal Pavilion); and on Monday. He is available at 604.328.3448 (cell).

Simulated images are available by contacting Heather Amos at heather.amos@ubc.ca or 604.828.3867 (cell) and will be available for download Sunday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m at: http://www.aaas.ubc.ca/media-resources/photos/

Photos of Flanders are available at: http://www.aaas.ubc.ca/media-resources/photos/. A video of Flanders is available at http://www.aaas.ubc.ca/media-resources/videos/ ]

Heather Amos | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ubc.ca

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Colorado River's connection with the ocean was a punctuated affair
16.11.2017 | University of Oregon

nachricht Researchers create largest, longest multiphysics earthquake simulation to date
14.11.2017 | Gauss Centre for Supercomputing

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>