Thursday, January 04, 2018

On the Harbor: How will sea level rise affect you?

Going out onto the harbor this week, with the fog rolling in, left me with a surreal feeling to the start of the new year. I could not make out what was ahead of me, yet I knew that something big was approaching though the fog even though I could not hear it.
With the King tides (the very highest tides) creating the extreme water flow in the harbor this week, my mind keeps going back, as far as five years ago, with the concerns of sea level rise. Back then and now, Balboa Island’s sea walls are of major concern. The now disbanded Tidelands committee along with city staff looked into everything from complete sea wall replacement to a tidal gate at the entrance to the harbor. After it was all said and done, city council decided to monitor sea level over the years.
Now the way my mind works, is you go out to your favorite dock pylon, at low tide, and place a type of measuring system on it. Guess what? It’s not that simple…what a surprise. About three years ago, I asked around where and how has the city been monitoring sea level rise? I received answers such as “I am not sure, you should ask public works” to “It is a fed concern, not a city’s”. To me that meant nothing was being done to monitor sea level, but I kept asking and a year ago I was informed that a team at UC Irvine is monitoring it.
So, I contacted Professor Brett Sanders form UCI and met with his team, Adam Luke and Jo Schubert who are working on hydra modeling and 3-D mapping of the Newport Harbor Bay system. A year had gone by and I was able to get a hold of Jo Schubert who directed me to their completed map, which I linked to my blog at Take some time to look it over as it packs in a lot of information. It has everything you ever wanted to know, including flood hazard in the harbor in the years 2035 and 2050, considering sea level rise.
If you learn how to use this map correctly it will show you the impact of joint occurrences of King tides and rainfall events: Visualizing the duration of flood waters on the Peninsula and islands during extreme events and visualizing how the raised sea wall on Balboa Island will impact flood hazard during tides and rainfall. The map will also visualize the frequency of flooding of the marsh in the Upper Newport Bay under different sea level rise conditions. This will inform environmental groups about potential migration of plant/wildlife habitat in the Upper Bay. No pun, but pretty deep stuff wouldn’t you say?
It all can be a bit confusing, so I would strongly suggest attending Speak Up Newport’s next meeting addressing sea level rise and now specifically it will affect you. It takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 10 with the reception starting at: 5:15 p.m. and the meeting with a Q&A occurring from 6 -7 p.m. in the Civic Center’s Community Room, 100 Civic Center Drive. The event is free of charge.

The following was taken from the Speak Up Newport flier: “No matter what your opinions are on climate change, the fact is that the sea level is rising. In recent years, both Balboa Island and portions of the Peninsula have been inundated with sea water during the winter King tides, reaching up to a foot higher than the tide tables. Although not new, higher tides are occurring more frequently each year. Just because you might not live on Balboa Island or the Peninsula, it does not mean you won’t be affected – even as far as Newport Coast. Speak Up Newport is presenting a forum with a panel of experts on the subject. Jim Campbell of the City Planning Department will describe what plans the City has for dealing with sea level rise and how it will affect all City residents. Robert Stein from the Public Works Department will explain the projects, including the Balboa Island Sea Wall project, which the City is planning to construct in both the near and long term. Brett Sanders and Jochen Shubert from the UCI team that’s creating the hyper-local flood maps for Newport Beach will present observations from their studies on sea level rise in the City. Such computer models eventually will be able to simulate flooding down to individual houses. Come and ask questions, and learn more about this topic. It is an important one for all coastal residents.”
To me it is kind of like turning on the stove timer when I fill up my pool. Hope you can make it.

Sea ya
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport.

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