Monday, August 07, 2017
Retreat From the Sea. Retreat To the Sea.
The Pacific Northwest is being hammered right now with a widespread heatwave, summer drought, and massive wildfires across mainland British Columbia that are spreading a blanket of smoke throughout the region, Washington and Oregon included.
Many people along the coast are tuned in to the issue of sea level rise. Fortunately much of the coast is rugged, rising sharply out of the sea and, hence, less vulnerable to seawater inundation. The low-lying areas, however, are often heavily populated including large tracts of Greater Vancouver and the Lower Mainland where adaptation could likely mean retreat from the sea.
The heatwave and fires we're now enduring has gotten a lot of attention. The Seattle Times reports that climate models point to a future of a lot more heatwaves with inland areas in particular. Some counties will see a doubling in days over 95F.
The coast, however, is expected to avoid much of the overheating thanks to our resident air-conditioner, the Pacific ocean. That probably won't be of much help for places like Vancouver where the topography (North Shore mountains, etc.) can trigger inversions, bubbles of heat and pollution, that blanket the communities all the way up into the Fraser Valley.
Hard to see exactly how this will play out. Some, it seems, will be pressured to retreat coastward, away from the increasing heatwaves and forest fires while others will have to retreat inland away from sea level rise and inundation.