Flooding isn’t unusual in Alexandria, but they are usually triggered by rain. In the past year, the city has suffered from tidal flooding, entirely due to maritime dynamics. This highlights the city’s vulnerability to rising sea levels, and its lack or preparation.
Earth.Org has mapped what severe flooding could look like in Alexandria by 2100.
After a flash flood that killed seven people in 2015, officials built concrete barriers to reduce coastal flood potential in Alexandria. However, much of the city sits on low-lying grounds that will suffer from coastal flooding if no protective infrastructure is built. Moreover, the compounded effect of climate change is expected to decrease Egypt’s agriculture by 47% by 2060 due to groundwater inundation by salt water.
In the face of this looming crisis, the Egyptian government claims it is doing everything it can according to an interview by Bloomberg CityLab. An advisor in water resource planning and management to the governor of Alexandria said they “have a lot of protection when it comes to sea-level rise’ but their main focus is trying to prevent floods like that of 2015.
Their approach is to force residents in poor, vulnerable areas to relocate, often into better housing but with no subsidy for rent. This strategy extends to Egypt as a whole, with plans to construct new cities meant to cost over USD $45 billion and no explicit plan for protecting places like Alexandria and Cairo.
One of the main issues is a lack of consensus on the gravity of climate change. Many officials do not believe any cities are under immediate threat, a statement that reveals their lack of foresight.
With no flood control plans or large relocation program for the city of Alexandria the citizens will be left to face the rising sea levels, on top which floods will cause devastating damage. Earth.Org has modelled what such a flood could look like by 2100.
Global mean sea level is projected to rise by 2m at the end of this century. However, in order to determine local sea level rise (SLR), one has to take into account local coastal flood levels which could be 2.8m above Mean Higher-High Water (MHHW) at extreme forecasts. These local levels bring variability to the projected SLR from 1m to 6.5m (eg. Rio vs Kolkata).
The SLR scenarios used in this study are based on the forecasts from Climate Central – Coastal Risk Screening Tool with the following parameters:
- Sea level Projection Source
- Coastal Flood Level
- Pollution Scenario
Sea level Projection Source: is from two highly cited journals by Kopp et al., estimating SLR mainly due to ocean thermal expansion and ice melt. The mid-range scenario projected 0.5-1.2m of SLR based on different representative concentration pathways (RCP) defined by the IPCC. While the pessimistic scenario added more mechanisms of ice-sheet melting, estimating SLR at 1m-2.5m in 2100, with projection of 10m SLR at 2300.
Coastal Flooding: More frequent coastal flooding is a direct impact of sea-level rise. Based on the Global tides and surge reanalysis by Muis et al., (2016), it is estimated that the extreme coastal water level could be from 0.2 – 2.8m over mean level. While in extreme cases like China and the Netherlands it could experience 5-10m of extreme sea levels. Here, the coastal local flood level is added on top of the projected SLR.
Pollution Scenario: allows to choose the RCP, the greenhouse gas concentration trajectory defined by the IPCC. The mild level is based on RCP4.5, of 2°C temperature rise; while Extreme level is based on RCP 8.5, of 4°C temperature rise.
Luck: applies to the the baseline SLR, defined in the “Sea level projection” section, upon which we add flooding. “Mild” refers to the mid-range scenario of 0.5-1.2m, and “extreme” to the pessimistic scenario of 1-2.5m. We used the high-end value of each scenario (mild = 1m; extreme = 2.5m).
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Kulp, Scott A., and Benjamin H. Strauss. “New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding.” Nature communications 10.1 (2019): 1-12.
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