Building with nature: Can reviving a marsh save this California town from sea level rise?
At the beginning of the century, the Pacific Ocean reached its highest level in recorded history, with a rise estimated at a whopping 1.5 metres. By 1920, it had fallen below a level called the “sea level in 1940”, as a result of the melting of permafrost at the North and South poles. The climate around the world as a result of that melting was radically different from before.
Today, the sea is still falling but at a more conservative pace, about 0.3 metres per year. With recent reports of an imminent sea level rise of 6 metres, is it too late to save the planet from the warming of the planet?
The answer to this and all other questions about sea level rise and its relation to man’s activities has to be yes, it is too late. But, as an example of the future, what happens in this inland town, in the northern foothills of California, could be different.
A series of marsh systems under the town are slowly returning to their natural state. Their existence and protection has the potential of slowing sea level rise in the region. This is just one example of how coastal communities can protect their coastlines from the destructive impacts of sea level rise.
Mapping the coastal environment
A map of California, and surrounding land, showing the land lost by sea level rise.
The landscape of one of the most important places on Earth is now being re-surveyed using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The project for which this is a part has been launched by the National Center for Coastal Applications in the United States, the State of California Department of Conservation, and the California Coastal Conservancy.
The maps produced from this latest phase of the project indicate that more than 2.9 million acres have been lost from the coasts of California and its neighbouring states over the past 35 years. The maps are part of the California Coastal Mapping Project (CCMP), launched in 2012.
The information is used in the California Coastal Zone Management Act (CCZMA