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Visualization brings sea level rise alive

Feb. 20, 2012 at 5:12 PM   |   Comments

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of British Columbia say they've produced computer visualizations of rising sea levels to help communities plan for sea-level rise.

The researchers are working with Delta, a municipality south of Vancouver surrounded by water on three sides and expecting the sea level to rise by nearly 4 feet by 2100.

Such a change would affect a number of waterfront homes, inland suburban developments, roads and farmland, they said.

Considerable infrastructure in Delta has been built below current and projected high water levels and could be inundated in the event of a dike breach, they said, so the visualization was produced to show how different adaptation strategies could be implemented and to help make decisions about how to best prepare for the future.

Historically, Delta has used dikes to protect the land from flooding and tides, a common strategy in coastal communities.

"It can be hard to mentally grasp what rising sea-levels can mean on the ground but our visualizations give people a glimpse of what their future world will look and feel like in their own backyards," UBC researcher David Flanders said. "They help community members understand how their quality of life can be affected by climate change, and by the decisions they make to deal with climate impacts."

"In other words, seeing really is believing in this case," he said.

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