Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rising sea levels threat to Oman real estate plans

From: Construction Week Online by Claire Ferris-Lay on Jan 17, 2012


Research suggests that the Omani capital of Muscat (above) faces the threat of rising sea water. Photo: Getty.

Research suggests that the Omani capital of Muscat (above) faces the threat of rising sea water. Photo: Getty.

Rising sea levels in Oman could be a threat to future construction projects in the Gulf sultanate, new research claims.

Land in Oman is moving a few millimeters every year, impacting areas in the capital city of Muscat and Seefah while data has also suggested the country could be at risk of a tsunami in the future, a study from the German University of Technology in Oman has found.

“Here in Oman, the land is moving by a few millimeters each year - in both directions up and downwards. It is necessary to quantify these processes as large infrastructure projects are under development in the coastal regions,” Professor Goesta Hoffmann, associate professor of applied geosciences at the university, said in a statement. “As a consequence, parts of Oman especially between Seefah and Muscat are threatened.”

Construction projects in Oman, like many Gulf countries, have ramped up in recent years as the country looks to diversify its economy and address its growing national population.

Spending on construction projects is expected to reach more than $27bn by 2014, according to research from Venture.

Global sea levels are expected to rise up to 1.6 metres by 2100, threatening coasts across the world as climate change speeds up and thaws Greenland’s ice, the Oslo-based Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme said in May.

“The past six years [to 2010] have been the warmest period ever recorded in the Arctic,” AMAP said. “In the future, global sea level is projected to rise by 0.9 metres (2ft 11in) to 1.6 metres (5ft 3in) by 2100 and the loss of ice from Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet will make a substantial contribution.

“Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet contributed over 40% of the global sea level rise of around 3mm per year observed between 2003 and 2008,” it added.

Oman’s future construction projects are unlikely to be severely impacted by plate movement, said Angus McFarlane, regional technical director at Dubai-based Hyder Consulting.

“Yes they are [threatened] but it’s not a huge seismic risk. It wouldn’t affect future projects, most of the infrastructure project have competent engineers who design for a reasonable seismic hazard anyway,” he said.

But the new research could deter foreign investors from investing in large-scale infrastructure projects in the long term, said Salman Jalil, operations manager at Oman real estate website Eqarat.com.

“If people read there’s a default and they were planning to invest, definitely they will have their reservations,” he said. “It’s not something that will effect [house prices] in the near future. If it happens in the next two to five years then they’ll be a major fear and that might affect the market adversely but if it’s long-term…the fear will be less,” he added.

New historical and geological evidence also suggested that the Gulf state could be at risk from a tsunami. Scientists during their research of land levels also discovered a letter from HM Sultan Said Al Said describing a tsunami in 1945 and found open-water species such as mollusks and other marine species in the lagoons close to Sur and Ras al Hadd in the Sharquiyah region.

“Five nights ago, an earthquake occurred before dawn time, though no damages happened here as the earthquake was subtle, but the sea rose higher than usual to the point that it entered in the wadi that is behind Masjid Al-Khor/ mosque by the wadi,” Al Said’s letter said.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bold plan proposed to save coastal Louisiana

From: Boston Globe  By Cain Burdeau

NEW ORLEANS—A $50 billion, 50-year proposal aspires to stop coastal land loss in Louisiana, build new levee systems to protect cities and even begin to slowly reverse the trend of eroding marsh that has turned the entire southern portion of the state into one of the nation's most vulnerable regions to sea level rise.

On Thursday, Gov. Bobby Jindal's coastal team said it would like to spend billions of dollars the state expects to get over the next half-century from increased royalties from offshore drilling, fines from the BP PLC oil spill and other sources to try to save the coast. The idea is garnering praise from some scientists and skepticism from others who openly wonder if the coast should be saved.

Since the 1930s, the state's coast has lost about 1,900 square miles, an area larger than Rhode Island. Louisiana's delta, created by the Mississippi River, has been falling apart because of levees on the Mississippi, oil drilling and other causes.

Since the 1990s, the federal and state governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on coastal restoration, but those efforts have been unable to stop land loss and the White House has backed plans for a much more aggressive program to save coastal Louisiana from disappearing.

"Our choice is simple: embrace a robust suite of solutions that address our crisis head on, or give up on the coast," the plan says.

Optimistically, the plan if carried out foresees an end to land loss in 30 years and creating up to 859 square miles of land over the next five decades. If nothing is done to stem the rising seas and land loss, the plan predicts the state would lose 1,756 square miles over that time.

Much of that new land, the plan says, would be built by opening up diversions on the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya River to flush sediment and freshwater into marshlands now sinking and eroding. Also, it calls for building new ridges, pumping sediment into eroded marshes, building new shorelines, shoring up coastal spots that have fallen apart and pouring sand onto disappearing barrier islands.

Significantly, the plan also calls for new levee systems for the coastal cities and towns, including better protection for New Orleans and new levees for Lake Charles, Houma, Slidell, Morgan City, New Iberia and Abbeville.

"The state of Louisiana has tackled this world-class problem with a world-class approach," said William Dennison, a marine scientist with the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science who helped craft the report. "They are making a strong case that this is not just a Louisiana issue, but it is a national issue."

He praised the plan for making "hard choices" about where to focus efforts. "There are difficult trade-offs," he said. "There are going to be some winners and losers."

Still, there was something in the plan for nearly every location along the coast -- and that will surely leave many scientists and critics questioning how realistic the proposal is and stir debate about whether many parts of southern Louisiana can be saved from the rising Gulf of Mexico.

Edward P. Richards is a science and public health law professor at Louisiana State University studying the state's coastal policies. He said any plan that proposes to save most of coastal Louisiana puts people in harm's way. The government encouraging people to continue living along the coast will result in new disasters when the next major hurricane strikes, he contends.

"We have threats that are so politically unpalatable to deal with that we create mythologies to reassure the public that we are properly managing those threats," he said. "What should be seriously debated is whether there should be any levees built anywhere or whether we should let the coast naturally shrink and move inland."

No communities are left behind under the plan, said Garret Graves, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the agency that developed the idea.

He said the plan had a "degree of realism" that previous plans for saving the coast lacked. He said the idea to use computer models to prioritize projects takes out the political element that went into determining what got done. Often, those "who screamed the loudest" were rewarded with projects.

He said the new plan was "unassailable in terms of science."

Still, some scientists remained guarded.

Robert S. Young, a coastal geologist at Western Carolina University who studies Louisiana's problems, said the plan amounted to re-engineering the coast, which would create new problems.

"They are changing the topography of coastal Louisiana," Young said. "I'm a firm believer that we are not smart enough to know what that will do when the next Hurricane Katrina sweeps across coastal Louisiana."

He also questioned the optimistic estimates about land creation.

"Are they creating any land that has any value, either from an ecosystem perspective or a storm protection perspective?"

But he praised the blueprint for its apparent candidness. "There is finally a recognition that they will not be able to protect the entire map of Louisiana as it exists now or as it existed in the 20th century."

The public will have a chance to comment on it before it is presented to the Louisiana Legislature in March.

------------

On The Web:

Louisiana's new coastal master plan: http://www.coastalmasterplan.louisiana.gov/

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press.

Bold plan proposed to save coastal Louisiana

From: Boston Globe  By Cain Burdeau

NEW ORLEANS—A $50 billion, 50-year proposal aspires to stop coastal land loss in Louisiana, build new levee systems to protect cities and even begin to slowly reverse the trend of eroding marsh that has turned the entire southern portion of the state into one of the nation's most vulnerable regions to sea level rise.

On Thursday, Gov. Bobby Jindal's coastal team said it would like to spend billions of dollars the state expects to get over the next half-century from increased royalties from offshore drilling, fines from the BP PLC oil spill and other sources to try to save the coast. The idea is garnering praise from some scientists and skepticism from others who openly wonder if the coast should be saved.

Since the 1930s, the state's coast has lost about 1,900 square miles, an area larger than Rhode Island. Louisiana's delta, created by the Mississippi River, has been falling apart because of levees on the Mississippi, oil drilling and other causes.

Since the 1990s, the federal and state governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on coastal restoration, but those efforts have been unable to stop land loss and the White House has backed plans for a much more aggressive program to save coastal Louisiana from disappearing.

"Our choice is simple: embrace a robust suite of solutions that address our crisis head on, or give up on the coast," the plan says.

Optimistically, the plan if carried out foresees an end to land loss in 30 years and creating up to 859 square miles of land over the next five decades. If nothing is done to stem the rising seas and land loss, the plan predicts the state would lose 1,756 square miles over that time.

Much of that new land, the plan says, would be built by opening up diversions on the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya River to flush sediment and freshwater into marshlands now sinking and eroding. Also, it calls for building new ridges, pumping sediment into eroded marshes, building new shorelines, shoring up coastal spots that have fallen apart and pouring sand onto disappearing barrier islands.

Significantly, the plan also calls for new levee systems for the coastal cities and towns, including better protection for New Orleans and new levees for Lake Charles, Houma, Slidell, Morgan City, New Iberia and Abbeville.

"The state of Louisiana has tackled this world-class problem with a world-class approach," said William Dennison, a marine scientist with the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science who helped craft the report. "They are making a strong case that this is not just a Louisiana issue, but it is a national issue."

He praised the plan for making "hard choices" about where to focus efforts. "There are difficult trade-offs," he said. "There are going to be some winners and losers."

Still, there was something in the plan for nearly every location along the coast -- and that will surely leave many scientists and critics questioning how realistic the proposal is and stir debate about whether many parts of southern Louisiana can be saved from the rising Gulf of Mexico.

Edward P. Richards is a science and public health law professor at Louisiana State University studying the state's coastal policies. He said any plan that proposes to save most of coastal Louisiana puts people in harm's way. The government encouraging people to continue living along the coast will result in new disasters when the next major hurricane strikes, he contends.

"We have threats that are so politically unpalatable to deal with that we create mythologies to reassure the public that we are properly managing those threats," he said. "What should be seriously debated is whether there should be any levees built anywhere or whether we should let the coast naturally shrink and move inland."

No communities are left behind under the plan, said Garret Graves, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the agency that developed the idea.

He said the plan had a "degree of realism" that previous plans for saving the coast lacked. He said the idea to use computer models to prioritize projects takes out the political element that went into determining what got done. Often, those "who screamed the loudest" were rewarded with projects.

He said the new plan was "unassailable in terms of science."

Still, some scientists remained guarded.

Robert S. Young, a coastal geologist at Western Carolina University who studies Louisiana's problems, said the plan amounted to re-engineering the coast, which would create new problems.

"They are changing the topography of coastal Louisiana," Young said. "I'm a firm believer that we are not smart enough to know what that will do when the next Hurricane Katrina sweeps across coastal Louisiana."

He also questioned the optimistic estimates about land creation.

"Are they creating any land that has any value, either from an ecosystem perspective or a storm protection perspective?"

But he praised the blueprint for its apparent candidness. "There is finally a recognition that they will not be able to protect the entire map of Louisiana as it exists now or as it existed in the 20th century."

The public will have a chance to comment on it before it is presented to the Louisiana Legislature in March.

------------

On The Web:

Louisiana's new coastal master plan: http://www.coastalmasterplan.louisiana.gov/

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press.

Bold plan proposed to save coastal Louisiana

From: Boston Globe  By Cain Burdeau

NEW ORLEANS—A $50 billion, 50-year proposal aspires to stop coastal land loss in Louisiana, build new levee systems to protect cities and even begin to slowly reverse the trend of eroding marsh that has turned the entire southern portion of the state into one of the nation's most vulnerable regions to sea level rise.

On Thursday, Gov. Bobby Jindal's coastal team said it would like to spend billions of dollars the state expects to get over the next half-century from increased royalties from offshore drilling, fines from the BP PLC oil spill and other sources to try to save the coast. The idea is garnering praise from some scientists and skepticism from others who openly wonder if the coast should be saved.

Since the 1930s, the state's coast has lost about 1,900 square miles, an area larger than Rhode Island. Louisiana's delta, created by the Mississippi River, has been falling apart because of levees on the Mississippi, oil drilling and other causes.

Since the 1990s, the federal and state governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on coastal restoration, but those efforts have been unable to stop land loss and the White House has backed plans for a much more aggressive program to save coastal Louisiana from disappearing.

"Our choice is simple: embrace a robust suite of solutions that address our crisis head on, or give up on the coast," the plan says.

Optimistically, the plan if carried out foresees an end to land loss in 30 years and creating up to 859 square miles of land over the next five decades. If nothing is done to stem the rising seas and land loss, the plan predicts the state would lose 1,756 square miles over that time.

Much of that new land, the plan says, would be built by opening up diversions on the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya River to flush sediment and freshwater into marshlands now sinking and eroding. Also, it calls for building new ridges, pumping sediment into eroded marshes, building new shorelines, shoring up coastal spots that have fallen apart and pouring sand onto disappearing barrier islands.

Significantly, the plan also calls for new levee systems for the coastal cities and towns, including better protection for New Orleans and new levees for Lake Charles, Houma, Slidell, Morgan City, New Iberia and Abbeville.

"The state of Louisiana has tackled this world-class problem with a world-class approach," said William Dennison, a marine scientist with the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science who helped craft the report. "They are making a strong case that this is not just a Louisiana issue, but it is a national issue."

He praised the plan for making "hard choices" about where to focus efforts. "There are difficult trade-offs," he said. "There are going to be some winners and losers."

Still, there was something in the plan for nearly every location along the coast -- and that will surely leave many scientists and critics questioning how realistic the proposal is and stir debate about whether many parts of southern Louisiana can be saved from the rising Gulf of Mexico.

Edward P. Richards is a science and public health law professor at Louisiana State University studying the state's coastal policies. He said any plan that proposes to save most of coastal Louisiana puts people in harm's way. The government encouraging people to continue living along the coast will result in new disasters when the next major hurricane strikes, he contends.

"We have threats that are so politically unpalatable to deal with that we create mythologies to reassure the public that we are properly managing those threats," he said. "What should be seriously debated is whether there should be any levees built anywhere or whether we should let the coast naturally shrink and move inland."

No communities are left behind under the plan, said Garret Graves, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the agency that developed the idea.

He said the plan had a "degree of realism" that previous plans for saving the coast lacked. He said the idea to use computer models to prioritize projects takes out the political element that went into determining what got done. Often, those "who screamed the loudest" were rewarded with projects.

He said the new plan was "unassailable in terms of science."

Still, some scientists remained guarded.

Robert S. Young, a coastal geologist at Western Carolina University who studies Louisiana's problems, said the plan amounted to re-engineering the coast, which would create new problems.

"They are changing the topography of coastal Louisiana," Young said. "I'm a firm believer that we are not smart enough to know what that will do when the next Hurricane Katrina sweeps across coastal Louisiana."

He also questioned the optimistic estimates about land creation.

"Are they creating any land that has any value, either from an ecosystem perspective or a storm protection perspective?"

But he praised the blueprint for its apparent candidness. "There is finally a recognition that they will not be able to protect the entire map of Louisiana as it exists now or as it existed in the 20th century."

The public will have a chance to comment on it before it is presented to the Louisiana Legislature in March.

------------

On The Web:

Louisiana's new coastal master plan: http://www.coastalmasterplan.louisiana.gov/

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ecosystem-based Adaptation in a Changing Climate: From Practice to Policy? Lessons learnt from islands

From: IUCN

|What can we learn from islands on ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) in a changing climate: from practice to policy? Read the summary and download presentations of the event on the topic convened at the Rio Conventions Pavilion during the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 17), in Durban, South Africa.

During the event on Ecosystem-based Adaptation in a Changing Climate: From Practice to Policy? Lessons learnt from islands Ambassador Ronald Jumeau, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Seychelles to the United Nations reminded that Islands are places of high biodiversity and that local economies and identity are highly dependent on islands ecosystems and associated natural resources. Yet islands are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts and least able to address them effectively. ‘Working with nature’ as EbA proposes is an attractive and cost-effective measure to build the resilience of island environments in the face of climate change.
The event outlined the complexity of developing effective EbA responses from problem identification through to policy, strategic partnerships, good practice guidelines and the need for strategic adaptation of plans. These plans should be supported by good science and vulnerability assessment and lead to implementation, political advocacy and the need for innovative financial mechanisms.
The full summary of the event can be accessed here. It includes the key messages on:

  • Implementing climate change adaptation programmes in island regions: A European Union perspective on the role of EbA;
  • What can we learn from implementing EbA in islands and island territories: From practice to policy;
  • Principles and guidelines for mainstreaming EbA in policy making and project development;
  • Debt-for-Adaptation-Swaps in SIDS.

All presentations can be downloaded from the links on the the right-hand side of this page.
The event was organized by IUCN and the European Commission as partners to the Rio Conventions Pavilion, with participation of the Global Islands Partnership (GLISPA), IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM), and IUCN Members: BirdLife International and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
For more information on this session, please contact Dominique Benzaken, IUCN.
For information on other adaptation-related events at the UNFCCC COP 17, please write to the Adaptation Hub or visit the Adaptation Hub online.