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.
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. "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."
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