This story was originally published by Wired and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Think back to being a kid at the beach, building walls around your sandcastles. If you engineered those fortifications properly, the tide would come in and flow around your kingdom, before the walls eventually eroded away. By redirecting the rising water, you would have saved your castle — at least for a little while.
Now think bigger. Imagine you’re a city planner in an area threatened by rising seas and you’ve spent a fortune to build a proper seawall. The tide comes in and the wall holds, saving you billions of dollars in property damage. But: whomp whomp. Like the waves you once redirected around your sandcastle, the rising waters hit the wall and flow into the communities on either side of you. You’ve saved your residents, but imperiled others.
New modeling shows just how catastrophic this wayward-water phenomenon might be in the San Francisco Bay Area, where sea-levels could rise 7 feet in the next 80 years. “Those rising waters put millions of people and billions of dollars in buildings at risk,” says Anne... Read more