Rising sea levels will put Seattle neighborhoods under water
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By the year 2050, expect parts of Seattle neighborhoods to be under water, said James Rufo Hill, a climatologist with Seattle Public Utilities.Rufo Hill displayed a map of the city showing parts of West Seattle, Georgetown, South Park, Harbor Island, Interbay and Golden Gardens inundated by rising sea levels caused by climate change. (You can listen to his explanation of the map in one of the videos above.)
The map and a call for public input on a set of recommendations for a new Climate Action Plan for the city were unveiled at a City Council news conference at the north beach of Myrtle Edwards Park on Monday.
"2012 was the hottest year on record for our planet and one month ago, the highest tide ever recorded in the city of Seattle happened," Councilman Mike O'Brien said. (You can see a video of the high tide above.)
"You can look over my shoulders and see the cranes that represent the economic activity of this maritime and industrial sector that create so many family wage jobs, when you look at the map and you see that most of Harbor Island can be under water in these events, it really causes us concern about future looks like and how we adapt to that."
"By 2050 this king tide will not be out of the ordinary but will be the norm," Councilwoman Jean Godden pitched in.
She added that the map shows Seattle still has work to do to ensure its utility infrastructure is prepared for climate change and rising sea levels.
The city's Green Ribbon Commission report has created a list of "Quick Start Actions" the city needs to start on. Here's a partial list:
- Conduct a citywide assessment of the impacts of temperature, precipitation, and sea level rise.
- Keep on pace to restore all 2500 acres of forested parkland by 2025 through the Green Seattle Partnership.
- Implement projects in several urban creeks that connect floodplains, increase stormwater storage capacity and improve culverts to minimize flooding and improve habitat.
- Use applied research and modeling to evaluate climate change impacts on Seattle City Light's electricity resources and future energy demands beyond the 20-year planning horizon.
- Implement Advanced Metering to begin the transition to a "smart grid."
- Continue to invest in water conservation programs reducing regional per capita water use.
- Adopt a green stormwater infrastructure policy and develop an implementation plan.
- Assess climate change impacts on transportation infrastructure and operations.
- Pilot an advanced green building standard, such as the Living Building Challenge, on a City facility.
- Review development codes and incentives, and identify barriers and potential opportunities, to encourage private development to become more resilient.
- Assess the public health impacts of climate change.
- Consider the impacts of climate change on access to healthy, affordable food.