Sea Level Rise and Future Urban Change
The twenty-first century has seen various natural crises come to the fore, global warming and rising sea levels being one of them, according to the Daily Mirror, a Chilling ‘Doomsday map’ shows how the UK will be left underwater in 80 years’ time.Faced with this grave crisis, countries around the world are thinking about how to solve the problem, or rather how to survive in the wake of rising sea levels. As the physical, embodied form of human society, cities will also be most directly and positively challenged by nature. How should we urban designers think and respond in this regard?
Dr Kulp said: “These assessments show the potential of climate change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines, and entire global regions within our lifetimes.As the tideline rises higher than the ground people call home, nations will increasingly confront questions about whether, how much, and how long coastal defences can protect them.”
In order to better understand and try out responses to the crisis, I have narrowed down from the broader issue of responding to this broad crisis to the scale of specific cities. I have chosen to investigate and reflect on several coastal cities in different countries, including Auckland and Cardiff.
In summary, after some basic research I have two general directions of thinking about this type of city: either to slowly reposition the city to reduce its impact over time and as sea levels rise, or to change the design of the shoreline area to counteract the rising sea levels by building large new flood defences. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, the first being that sea level rise will be a more continuous and long-term process until the greenhouse effect is fully addressed. The constant repositioning of cities is economically viable in the short term, but in the long term it may affect the upper limit and scale of urban development. In contrast, the creation of coastal levees is expensive in the short term, but in the long term it will ensure a relatively stable development environment and a higher level of urban development for cities.
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