The low-lying Delta community, south of Vancouver, Canada, is an agricultural population of about 100,000 that is surrounded by water and is facing a sea-level rise of 1.2 m by 2100. David Flanders and his colleagues at the University of British Columbia have been working with stakeholders in the Delta community for several years to illustrate ways to adapt to climate change impacts, such as flood and storm surges.
"The visualizations show four hypothetical community futures … each one paints a picture of a different adaptation strategy that could reduce the community's overall risk to inundation over the next century," said Flanders, who presented his visualizations at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver.
"The strategies we explore include raising the dikes ('Hold The Line'); building offshore barrier islands to absorb the impact of incoming storms ('Reinforce and Reclaim'); moving parts of the community out of the floodplain and on to higher ground or protected areas ('Managed Retreat'); and reducing vulnerability through design by raising homes, roads, and critical infrastructure above the floodplain ('Build Up')," he said.
The 3D models are integrated with results from localized climate modeling and hydrological modeling studies that show where water might flow in the event of a dike breach and how deep it could be. "We pull together a wide range of data, and package it into holistic scenarios of the future," Flanders said.
The visualizations will help community members understand how their life might be affected by climate change, and help stakeholders make decisions about the future of the community.
- Jacqui Hayes