Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Planners Must Take Predicted Climate Change Into Account

03.12.2008
If the coming century continues to unfold as the “age of climate change,” it’s clear to University of Massachusetts Amherst land use planner Elisabeth Hamin and colleagues that cities and towns should begin right now to assess such predicted impacts as warmer winters, more severe storms and more intense rainfall. Because if we’ve learned only one lesson already, she says, it’s that we’re going to be surprised by what’s to come.

Hamin recently completed a study with colleagues in Australia that was designed to help community leaders of 68 fast-growing, medium-sized coastal towns there figure out how to plan for the sometimes drastic changes being predicted. For example, she says, some housing developments just getting underway are predicted to be under water in 10 years.

“Their experience is absolutely relevant for us here in the United States,” Hamin says, “because we’re just coming out of a long period when we’ve built very little infrastructure. We need new roads, bridges, storm drains and transit systems. And it looks like the new administration will move ahead with at least some new projects. Based on our findings, what we suggest is, let’s start thinking ahead.”

Her report published this year suggests that rather than design infrastructure with past extremes in mind, once accepted as common practice, towns and cities must switch gears and begin to plan for conditions that fit predictions for the next 100 years, Hamin stresses. Much of the motivation for the Planning for Climate Change Report she wrote with colleagues at the University of Sydney came from mayors who saw what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and asked themselves, “Could it happen here?”

Hamin and her co-authors say their study for the Sea Change Task Force also confirmed that “not everyone will be affected in the same way.” For example, older residents are less able than younger ones to adapt or move out of harm’s way even when given plenty of warning. And the poor don’t have the money, a personal car or other resources to relocate at all.

Hamin and a UMass Amherst colleague Craig Nicolson, research assistant professor of natural resources conservation, are now collaborating on a project that will assist New England towns in understanding how physical and social vulnerabilities might combine to create challenges related to climate change.

They suggest, among other things, that carefully crafted zoning rules might help everyone from village councils to county boards sidestep problems and guide development to not only save taxpayer’s money but also reduce risk to home buyers’ and developers’ investments.

Until recently, even if mayors and planning commission members wanted to see climate change predictions for their towns, they couldn’t do so easily, according to Nicolson. That’s because past global climate change models divided Earth’s surface into grids hundreds of miles across, larger than some New England states. But now more useful details on a smaller scale are only becoming available.

“If you’re the mayor of Springfield, there’s been no place where you could find out what global climate models predict for your city compared to Boston’s, for example, with any precision,” says Nicolson, who usually conducts his climate change impact research among native communities in the Arctic. “Yet we know that climate change impacts on the two cities are going to be different, for several reasons.”

Now that’s changing. “In the last five to eight years experts have been downscaling the global grid data to provide predictions useful on a more local level,” Nicolson says. The new tools include a Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment study by the Union of Concerned Scientists issued in 2007. Nearby Keene, N.H., is one of the very few small cities in the United States to have used its conclusions in planning for the future, Hamin points out.

Even though cities and towns may not have exact numbers, the UMass Amherst researchers point out, a range can help to identify best- and worst-case seasonal flood extreme scenarios, for example. “You can predict that we’re going to need to build a whole lot of new culverts and bridges to handle more rainfall,” suggests Nicolson. Even better, from Hamin’s point of view, is that looking ahead may give towns more tools and encouragement to deal with managing higher storm water levels using “green” techniques that emphasize handling flow on site, with low-impact, environmentally responsive methods.

Overall, Nicolson summarizes, “These kinds of things can now be anticipated. We can prevent some of the most awful surprises by looking ahead instead of backward in time. We can start to answer the question of how we deal with what’s likely to come.”

Hamin and colleagues’ “Planning for Climate Change Report” is available at:
http://people.umass.edu/emhamin/publications.html
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ climate change assessment is available at: www.climatechoices.org/assets/documents/climatechoices/NECIA_climate_report_final.pdf

Elisabeth Hamin | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umass.edu
http://people.umass.edu/emhamin/publications.html
http://www.climatechoices.org/assets/documents/climatechoices/NECIA_climate_report_final.pdf

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>