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Climate Change: Researchers Looking to Save Coastal Towns like Newport from Flooding

The FloodRISE project is taking a close look at the cities of Newport Beach and Tijuana.

Flooding in Newport Beach in 2011. Photo courtesy of UC Irvine.
Flooding in Newport Beach in 2011. Photo courtesy of UC Irvine.

Originally posted at 7:53 p.m. July 2, 2014. Edited to correct the photo caption.

Researchers at UC Irvine said today they are working to develop a model to help save property and lives in coastal communities like Newport Beach, which could face severe flooding from rising seas due to global climate change.

The FloodRISE project is taking a close look at the cities of Newport Beach and Tijuana, which are both built on coastal estuaries, where waterways meet the ocean. Both equally face a threat of severe flooding, according to UCI professor Brett Sanders, leader of the project.

"We know that flood damages are growing at an alarming rate around the world and we know that these damages are increasingly impacting urban areas," Sanders told Video News West.

The research team uses a small airplane to fly over the communities with a laser scanner to create 3-D models of the areas, he said.

The goal is to "find a way to use this information to make these areas less vulnerable to damage,"  Sanders said. Each land owner will be given the forecast of the coastal flooding risk for their property, said.

The researchers hope the information in the study can be used beyond the two cities.

"We have a lot of infrastructure, cities, communities that are built out at the high-tide level," Sanders said. "Those areas are already seeing coastal flooding," which he expects to become "more frequent and more damaging."

Richard Matthew, a professor in the UCI Department of Planning, Policy and Design, is also involved in the project. He said both Tijuana and Newport Beach are good base models because they face such an extreme threat of flooding.

Half of the challenge is convincing people that the threat exists, he said.

City planners and property owners "have a great capacity to mitigate damage" depending on "the extent to which people believe there is a risk that needs to be addressed," Matthew said.

--City News Service


Christopher Trela July 03, 2014 at 11:19 PM
Your photo caption says Flooding in Tijuana in 2011. That is actually a photo of the flooding in Newport Beach on Aug 31, 2011. High tides that day caused the streets near Balboa Pier and other areas to flood. In the photo you can see boats in a harbor. To my knowledge, Tijuana does not have a harbor.
Penny Arévalo July 04, 2014 at 12:30 AM
You're right. I snagged the wrong caption information from UCI. Now fixed.

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