Planning needs to be done now to address the future sea level rise in South Delta, say researchers who provided ominous visuals of what could unfold.
Current estimates have the sea level rise for South Delta at about 1.2 metres by 2100. However, at a science symposium in Vancouver on the weekend, a pair of researchers made a more dire prediction, contending the original estimates might be too conservative.
David Flanders of the University of B.C and Simon Fraser University professor of geology John Clague told a symposium for the annual convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that planning is needed for the possibility of a more rapid rise.
Using computer visualizations of rising sea levels in a low-lying coastal municipality like Delta, they illustrated ways to adapt to climate change impacts such as flooding and storms surges.
"To me, the visualizations are the only way that you can tell the complete story of climate change and its impacts in a lowlying coastal community," said Flanders, with the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP), prior to the symposium.
Delta participated in the federally funded project, which shows what the community would look like if nothing is done.
According to CALP, there's an urgent need for governments at all levels in Canada to make decisions concerning adaptation and planning strategies.
Noting planning is already well underway on how Delta can deal with a 1.2-metre rise in sea level by the end of the century, deputy engineering director Hugh Fraser said current estimates are based on information from government and scientists.
Delta's dike system is constructed to what's described as a 200-year flood level, which means the risk of flooding is estimated to be 0.5 per cent in a given year. That means there's is a 99.5 per cent chance that flooding from high water will not occur.
What's not clear is how the current dike system would hold up with rising sea levels due to climate change by 2100, but the computer images suggests there needs to be upgrades.
Fraser, noting a number of works to dikes and pump stations have already been done, said upgrades would be gradually carried out as funding becomes available.
He said the province is also undertaking a study to look at the costs of improving the coastal flood protection system.
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