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A news post on ASCE Smartbrief caught my attention. It directs to the website: https://airport-technology.com that highlights the recent flooding of Kansai International Airport in Japan and discusses the potential effects of rising sea level on low lying airports around the world (some 34 around the world – 13 in USA). Although sea level rise is silently engulfing our low-lying coasts – coastal waterfront and in-water developments and structures of urban areas, and of port and marine installations – only incidences like this draw media attention.
While scientific predictions are stuck with uncertainties, and hardly agree on the rate or magnitude of accelerated sea level rise – the consequences of global warming on sea level, on enhancement of wave and storm activities are real – certainly occurring in our generation and will continue to demand serious and unwavering attention in time to come.
The topic stimulated some thoughtful and excellent responses and contributions – thanks to all.Despite uncertainties, we are all on the same page – skeptics or realists – waking up to the facts of increasingly frequent and trend-setting incidences and consequences of climate change. As pointed out by many, the most noticeable such events are the combined effects of rising sea, high tide and storm activities exposing the flooding vulnerability of low lying areas – the coastal airports like the Kansai and Rio – for that matter all waterfront infrastructure and developments. One should not be surprised if such events would continue to attract our attention time and again in the future.
As pointed by Robert E Fields, there are more and broader aspects of climate change consequences – and hope that the ASCE initiative would yield valuable insights and results benefiting us all.
Back in December 2018, we had some great discussions about the implications of and challenges associated with facing the threat of sea level rise on low lying airports. Needless to say that all civil infrastructure in coastal areas face similar problems. And we come across news from across the world, almost on daily basis – how sea is encroaching into our yard – perhaps not so slowly anymore (as many scientists once predicted) – but with all the fury of associated impacts of climate change.
I came across an ASCE report (see the attached) rightly touching the core issue. It is a fascinating and concise guide – designed to help analyzing the problem toward better planning and implementation of civil infrastructure – to face the reality of climate change and sea level rise.
Perhaps – a quick review of the ASCE document is useful. Built upon the broad consequences of climate change and associated effects – the document presents 4 different future world scenarios (Resilient Cities; Progressive Megacities; Dispersed Settlements; and Unequal Enclaves) based on 6 identified trends (Climate Change; Alternative Energy; High-tech Construction/Advanced Materials; Autonomous Ground Vehicles; Smart Cities; and Policy and Funding) – that comes in with different degrees of intensities. With the suggestions of – how the civil engineering profession as a whole, specifically those at the forefront of engineering and technological innovation – should transform to cater to the needs of the future. The primary trigger of the 6 trends is climate change.
As many of you have noticed already – this document has not addressed many issues associated with sea level rise. Somehow, I have the feeling that some of the trends and scenarios are so futuristic and visionary – that they almost give the impression of something unrealistic. They may however become usefully relevant down the road – but then many trends would likely change in intensity, or likely to shift in priorities.