The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sea Level Risk in East Texas


From the remarkable Global Warming Art site. Here's a closeup of the East Texas coastline.



Regardless, a recent article in the Houston Chronicle on the impacts of global warming on Houston barely mentioned sea level rise.

(see also The First Meter and other of my entries linked from there)

4 comments:

Dan'l said...

The art work is stunning. The Houston Chron article makes it difficult not to make snide comments.

It will be easier to live in Boston with no energy? Probably because we have the Red Sox to keep our mind off how bad the no energy thing is.

And as you point out, no mention of being underwater in either Boston or Houston. But at least morbidity won't be a problem, c'z, ya'll are adapted to the heat. Whereas, I'm thinking gills might be a better adaptation. Where is Darwin when you need him?

John Mashey said...

In case one doesn't live in LA or TX, I recommend:
http://flood.firetree.net/
to look at any place in the world under your choice of sea-levels.

Of course, the Dutch long ago proved that building good dikes can allow use of below-sea=level land. It does mean that one will have to do that, though, and of course, building dikes and running pumps takes energy, which will be getting more expensive (Peak Oil).

Also, the price/performance of dikes varies greatly by geography: in some cases, the Dutch were able to protect large amounts of shore and land with relatively short dikes, which simply doesn't work for LA. I.e., the Afsluitdijk that closed off the Zuidersee to make it a lake, an awesome achievement ... is about 30 km long.

By comparison, in Michael's two maps, the coastline from Freeport (just S of Galveston) to Gulfport, AL (somewhat E of New Orleans) is ~800 km.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_control_in_the_Netherlands

Note: about own blog: thanks for the kind words. Maybe I should do a blog, but for now, I'd rather select good blogs and contribute to discussions there, in the hopes of increasing the critical mass that keeps a blog lively, than (slightly) dilute/fragment conversations by adding yet another blog.

As in print journalism, there is probably an optimal range of numbers of blogs that include a given topic. At one extreme, having only one would be restrictive and disallow useful inputs and discussions.

At the other extreme every person would have a blog, which means that writing >> reading.
There are already enough good ones that adding another blog seems redundant for now.

inel said...

Yes, GWA is a great site for visual aids: I first heard about it from tamino, and now I recommend it for teachers and students to get a better picture ;-)

Thanks for flood.firetree john (I seem to recall you mentioning this site before, in earlier comments …). It is interesting after looking at the flood maps provided for our local area by the Environment Agency. Now I wonder if there is a GoogleEarth overlay … ? That would also be cool.

Half our street was flooded during one of this summer's downpours—and that was nothing to do with sea level rises, but more to do with too much rain plummeting from the sky too quickly for the saturated ground and clogged drains to handle. Run-off was horizontal! We were lucky the Thames didn't burst its banks at the same time, as we could then have had water coming at us from several directions at once.

You are right to point out that the Houston article, and many others like it, rarely cover all the various alternative scenarios that could befall a low-lying place, michael.

John Mashey said...

New Orleans:
- Subsidence + rising sea level
- Hurricanes
- Mississippi floods (rare, but have occurred)
- and finally, sooner or later the Mississippi River is going to go where it has been wishing to, down the Atchafalaya channel, bypassing New Orleans.

See John McPhee, "Control of Nature" or
http://users.stlcc.edu/jangert/oldriver/oldriver.html