On Thin Ice

See How Rising Sea Levels Affect You

By ROB MAYEDA
Updated 3:15 PM PDT, Fri, Oct 1, 2010

RMcNicholas, Flickr

You owe it to yourself to check out the USGS Cascade project animation. It uses some great layered data presented by the USGS as an animation based on the Google Earth platform.

Take me to the animation

As seen in the program, what I found interesting about this animation was the fact some of the inundation/flooding scenario seen here does not require 50-100 years of slowly rising sea levels. Some levee and infrastructure systems could fail in the event of a major storm event such as a 50 or 100 year storm, or a prolonged stretch of unusually heavy rain and strong winds.

 There is some suggestion that our future Winters may look more like El Nino Winters -- meaning we may be prone to more energetic, moisture-rich weather systems that would make the Bay Area more prone to flooding. This obviously would challenge flood management and infrastructure systems more than in an average winter.

Warmer, wetter winters would also mean higher snow levels in the Sierra, exposing the inland Central Valley to more intense flooding episodes. Meanwhile the lack of an adequate snowpack (as more precipitation falls as rain rather than snow) would strain reserves of a growing state for future generations.

First Published: Oct 1, 2010 1:18 PM PDT
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