BBC World News Horizons examines rising sea levels across the globe
If you ignore it, then some time in the future you’re going to have a massive flood, you’re going to have a hurricane Katrina or a Super Storm Sandy, and you’ll really have much higher damage, and you will be forced to do things maybe you wouldn’t have done."Robert Nicholls, Professor of Coastal Engineering, University of Southampton
In years to come, leading scientists forecast rising sea levels, more flooding and an increase in the number of super storms. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted sea-levels could rise by as much as 59cm by the next century, which could affect over 600 million people living in low-lying coastal areas in 180 countries.
Professor Nicholls says: “If you ignore it, then some time in the future you’re going to have a massive flood, you’re going to have a hurricane Katrina or a Super Storm Sandy, and you’ll really have much higher damage, and you will be forced to do things maybe you wouldn’t have done. So the key issue with sea level rise is preparedness, and starting that preparedness now.”
Adam also travels to New York City to talk with Stephen Cassell, who leads the Architecture Research Office. His practice believes we should look to nature to protect the world’s megacities from flooding. This involves a natural buffer zone with the sea, containing absorptive concrete, as well as engineered soil and wetlands that channel storm surges back to the sea.
The programme then heads to San Francisco Bay, which is at risk of flooding. The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project aims to turn an area of derelict industrial salt ponds back into tidal marshes, protecting vulnerable areas such as Silicon Valley. This billion-dollar, 50-year project hopes to be a cheaper and greener way to protect some of California’s most susceptible coastal areas from the sea.
The Horizons team also visits Tokyo, Japan, which is prone to flooding. One engineering solution is the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel or G-Cans. It is a 20-year, $2 billion project to build the world’s largest underground flood water diversion facility, designed to channel water away from the city streets.
Broadcasting Saturday 23 November and Sunday 24 November 2013.
The Horizons series, sponsored by DuPont, airs weekly on Saturdays at 2.30am and 8.30am, Sundays at 2.30pm and 9.30pm (all times GMT).
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Notes to Editors
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