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05 February 2007

A's Waterworld

Matier and Ross pointed out in today's column that Pacific Commons is in some danger due to global warming. Should sea levels rise 1 meter over the next 100 years, it would appear that the low-lying project area would become waterfront property or at worst underwater. So which is it?

A
previous Chron article included a handy-dandy map showing which parts of the Bay shoreline would be inundated. While the map shows that the project area is not within the 1 meter zone, it's somewhat outdated because it doesn't include the work done to create the Pacific Commons wetlands preserve. In order to maintain tidal flow throughout the area, a causeway was built for Cummings Parkway, which runs through the western part of the project area. The causeway is some 3-4 meters above the preserve.

The preserve area (light gray) is physically lower than the project site by 1-2 meters (check this space later for GPS measurements). What you'd have is the project site above the preserve, evolving from a usually dry tidal marsh to an estuary-type area. So the ballpark and the nearby housing should be relatively safe, right?


I'm not going to make any predictions. It would be nice if the subject matter were covered in the EIR. One thing's for certain: Someone's going to need flood insurance.


I'm including murf's comments in this post. murf knows this particular field quite well, so his opinion is worth a lot more than mine, or a couple of columnists:

It won't be covered in the EIR except to say that future considerations should be made, dependent on observed sea level fluctuations. That's all that can or should be said about it right now.

An aside on potential sea level rise: 1 meter is a pretty generous (sensationalized) estimate. More recent estimates put the potential rise at 7 to 23 inches by 2100.

An important factor re: how sea level impacts are predicted. Anytime you see a number, be it 7 inches or 2 meters, it's a prediction for the average global change in sea level. Change, we know, is most severe at the equator with diminishing severity as you go north and south away from the equator. This is because there is a major factor beyond ice cap melt that is considered in the models: thermal expansion. Water at the equator, currently and predicted in the models, fluctuates with greater variance than in the northern and southern hemispheres. Unless ocean currents are reversed (very unlikely) the California coast will still receive current from cold regions near Alaska, which predictably could mitigate some of the thermal expansion expected in warmer waters. The one thing we know for certain is that we don't know everything about how the oceans are going to react. We've got a good idea, though. As for Pacific Commons, it lies within the Study Area of the South Bay Shoreline Study of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a host of local sponsors. This project is in year 2 of a 7 year study to determine appropriate steps to protect the area for the next 100 years against tidal super-elevation and potential sea level changes. (New Orleans opened a lot of eyes.) Assuming the Federal Government can pass appropriations bills in the next 100 years, PC should be safe.

It's good to know that the Feds are learning from Katrina and could apply lessons to our situation.


11 comments:

murf said...

It won't be covered in the EIR except to say that future considerations should be made, dependent on observed sea level fluctuations. That's all that can or should be said about it right now.

An aside on potential sea level rise: 1 meter is a pretty generous (sensationalized) estimate. More recent estimates put the potential rise at 7 to 23 inches by 2100.

An important factor re: how sea level impacts are predicted. Anytime you see a number, be it 7 inches or 2 meters, it's a prediction for the average global change in sea level. Change, we know, is most severe at the equator with diminishing severity as you go north and south away from the equator. This is because there is a major factor beyond ice cap melt that is considered in the models: thermal expansion. Water at the equator, currently and predicted in the models, fluctuates with greater variance than in the northern and southern hemispheres. Unless ocean currents are reversed (very unlikely) the California coast will still receive current from cold regions near Alaska, which predictably could mitigate some of the thermal expansion expected in warmer waters.

The one thing we know for certain is that we don't know everything about how the oceans are going to react. We've got a good idea, though.

As for Pacific Commons, it lies within the Study Area of the South Bay Shoreline Study of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a host of local sponsors. This project is in year 2 of a 7 year study to determine appropriate steps to protect the area for the next 100 years against tidal super-elevation and potential sea level changes. (New Orleans opened alot of eyes.)

Assuming the Federal Government can pass appropriations bills in the next 100 years, PC should be safe.

anon-a-mouse said...

Great info, ML and murf. Confirms my gut reaction to the M&R article. Something about their panicked reaction to the Pacific Commons possibilities, contrasted with their blithe attitude toward the Pac Bell and airport risks just didn't smell right. Sounds like they were blowing hot air.

I hate to indulge in conspiracy theories, but it sure seems like the Chronicle wants the A's efforts to build a new local stadium to fail. I guess they could cut down on costs by not having to follow a second team around the country. Otherwise, I don't know why that would be.

It's probably just me. I'll admit I have a biased opinion about their treatment of the A's. I've always felt that the Chronicle treated the A's like a bunch of red-headed step-children. (note: it's an old saying. I have nothing against step-children -- red-headed or otherwise.)

Anonymous said...

Hi MarineLayer. They are discussing redevelopment right now at oaklandfans.com
You might want to chime in and add your expertise...

Anonymous said...

Fire sale TODAY on all the stars'oceanfront 30 million dollar homes in Malibu . They might be under water in 100 years. In fact every property in the world is now worth zero, as I'm sure plenty of "napsack nukes" will have been set off everywhere well before the next 100 years.

Marine Layer said...

Something happened with the message board there and I'm no longer able to login. I'd just as soon not post there, the tone there isn't civil and there's little sense of discourse.

baycommuter said...

Anon-a-mouse, at least one of the Chronicle's A's Drumbeat bloggers (me, aka Vlae Kershner) is n record as strongly in support of the Pacific Commons plan.

anon-a-mouse said...

That's good to hear, Vlae! Like I said, I'm hypersensitive to the treatment of the A's, so it's probably just me. But it sure seems like the writers in the printed paper (I get it delivered and thus rarely venture over to sfgate) have nothing good to say about it. Surely, they realize that if this falls through, the A's are gone.

ML: good moderation. That other post wasn't contributing anything to the dialog, but I got a kick out of writing it anyway. I'll try harder to control myself! ;)
(Feel free to edit this out, since no one else will know what I'm talking about.)

Marine Layer said...

Good recognition, anon-a-mouse. I'm trying to cut down on the attacks - including my own.

Someone went after BleacherDave which was quite unfair. I think I can speak for a lot of fans when I say that I'm conflicted about the prospects of the move. BD feels it in a different degree than I do, but we're both conflicted nonetheless.

Tony said...

If the comments to Bleacher Dave were so unfair, why did you allow them to be posted?

When Oakland supporters make comments like "They're leaving the city of my birth" it's obvious they're choosing to push the emotion buttons in making their case. This is the same type of discourse that is encouraged at Oaklandfans.com; a forum that you yourself have admitted to be "not civil"

Marine Layer said...

If you'd heard BD's initial reaction to the Fremont concept on the radio along with his posts here and elsewhere, you'd see that he can't easily be lumped into a particular group of A's fans. He's also capable of defending himself, which is why I let the comment run.

Anon-a-mouse's rejected comment was potential trolling. That was recognized quickly and dealt with. Done.

For A's fans there is a simple question to answer regarding this project: "How much does the 'Oakland' in 'Oakland Athletics'" matter? That's oversimplifying it but it's along the right path. The matter of Fremont muddies things to an extent.

Jeff P said...

So now global warming is being bandied about as a reason to oppose the A's moving? What, the traffic issue wasn't cutting it anymore? Sometimes I despair that my fellow man will ever learn that cynicism is a healthy virtue when dealing with those who deal in hate-mongering or fear-mongering. I suppose it's getting harder and harder to convince the frozen midwest that global warming is a clear and present danger. So we've moved on to "climate change" as the pc buzzword. Well no kidding. Planetary climate is not a static thing. It's either trending in one direction or another, and for how long a particular trend lasts, who can say with certainty? It wasn't so long ago that mankind was dooming the world to a new ice age, or so said the scientists back in the seventies. When will people learn that if someone is telling you the debate is over and that they are right by virtue of their saying so, then it's likely that person is not to be trusted. Ah, the world is ending...but I can save you and your children from your foolish ignorance. All I require is your consent to yield to my authority and power. Do it for the kids. My God, what about the kids?

Well, the articles were good for a laugh or two. I look forward to the next argument!