Planning for a rising sea level

The State of Louisiana has published a set of reports containing a methodology for predicting sea level rise that could be very useful to coastal landowners and municipal planners in Canada and around the world. Though focusing on the State’s Gulf Coast the reports explore the known science of rising sea levels and explains how global and local factors must be taken into account in determination of areas that can expect to be inundated.

The report recommends that land use planners should assume a one metre rise in mean global sea level by 2100, with the possibility that the rise will be as much as 1.5 metres or as little as 0.5 metres over 1980’s levels. Local factors may further modulate these projections.

Canada has prepared similar sea level rise projections, for example from Natural Resources Canada, but in virtually every case the Canadian projections are predicated on climate change. One of the most unique features of the Louisiana report is that there is very little mention of climate change and the report notes that measured sea level rise is actually at the high end of or exceeding IPCC predictions. Support for the science of climate change is low in Louisiana.

Coastal sensitivity to sea level rise in Canada is discussed and mapped at http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography-boundary/coastal-research/sea-level/7132

The Louisiana  technical reports are available at http://coastal.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=240

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