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Prepare for sea level rise (and save billions)

Sea level rise is expected to damage hotels, power plants, desalination plants and settlements. If so, why is there no comprehensive preparation in Israel for the effects of sea level rise on coastal areas, despite estimates in Europe that such preparation could save billions?

Sea level rise may change the surface as we know it today. Photo: amira_a, Flickr.
Sea level rise may change the surface as we know it today. Photo: amira_a, Flickr.

By Maya Falah, Angle, Science and Environment News Agency

Get your swimsuits and wetsuits ready: It looks like sea levels are going to rise dramatically as early as the 50s. Climate change continues, whether the new president of the United States believes it or not, and according to predictions, the melting of glaciers caused by climate change is expected to change the seas and coastal areas beyond recognition during this century.

The forecasts foreshadow an increase in the level of the oceans, Warming of the water temperature, An increase in the level of acidity of the sea water, An increase in the frequency of floods from the streams, and specific to our region - The disintegration of the coastal cliff וErosion of the grouping tables, which constitute a unique habitat for many species. These predictions are already partially realized, and are expected to change Israel's coastline as it is today.

Although according to Report of the International Panel on Climate Change As of 2013, the average global rise in sea level predicted until the end of the 21st century is about 74 centimeters according to the most severe scenario, since studies from the last year and a half, Like that of climate expert James Hansen, talk about an even more serious increase, of about three meters already during the next 50 years. Hansen claims that when the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica melt beyond a certain level, the rate of sea level rise will double over and over again - and therefore it is worth preparing for the rise in sea level to be sudden and sharp and not necessarily gradual, as is usually assumed.

Even if you refuse to accept these prophecies of rage, even the most reassuring forecasts speak of a rise in the sea level by a quarter of a meter or more by the middle of this century. That is, with a very high probability already in the coming decades a considerable rise in the sea level is expected to occur which will affect most regions of the world - and Israel as well.

A particularly sensitive sea

Israeli residents' awareness of the effects of climate change is low to non-existent. Few people know, for example, that climate change means not only warming, but also extreme climate events, like those that bring with you fierce floods in the winter and huge fires in the dry seasons. In the same way, few in Israel are aware of the consequences of sea level rise, even though it is just around the corner and in many parts of the world it is taken very seriously and prepared for while investing considerable budgets.

The rise of the sea level may, in fact, change the surface as we know it today, and along the way damage many facilities that we now take for granted. Imagine what will happen to Israel's drinking water supply when the sea water rises and damages the operation of the desalination facilities, the pride of the State of Israel? What damage is expected to tourism and the economy in Israel when hotels, restaurants and dozens of businesses on the coastal cliff will be damaged by the consequences of the rising sea level? Power plants, military bases, residences and many other facilities that we rely on on a daily basis are currently located on the coastline, and it is hard to imagine the price we will have to pay to adapt them to the changing reality. The sea level rise will also raise the surface of the streams and make them more susceptible to flooding, and these will reach deeper inland and cause more serious damage. also, In the event of a tsunami, the massive water wave will "ride" on the new water level, something that will strengthen it and allow it to go deeper into the land.

The Mediterranean region is perceived by the scientific community as an area with increased climatic sensitivity. According to the forecasts, the region is expected to experience warming in the next decades, in the form and decrease of precipitation. Some projections regarding sea level rise suggest that they are expected to rise at a higher rate than the global average data. as per A document of the Society for the Protection of Nature From 204, based in this part onThe work of Dov Rosen, the rise in the level of the Mediterranean Sea in the years 2002-1992 occurred at a rate of 10 mm per year - more than the global average during these years, which was about 0.4-2.6 mm per year, and more than the rate during the rest of the twentieth century, which was about 1- 2 mm per year. In the years 2013-2001, the rate of increase, as measured at the monitoring station in Hadera, actually moderated a little, and was about 6 mm per year; And still the rate is higher than the average global rate.

It is cheaper to prepare in advance

so what are we doing? How do we prepare for these frightening predictions, and make sure to maintain the security of the country's citizens, their place of residence and the source of livelihood for so many? The answer may not be simple, but there are countries that already understand the need to prepare for sea level rise and integrate it into their maritime and coastal planning. The main reason why it is necessary to prepare already now (or maybe already yesterday) for sea level rise is economic: Reports of the European Union They show that financial investment in proper preparation today will be negligible compared to the costs of restoring the damage caused by sea level rise in the future. According to the reports, in the relatively optimistic scenario according to which the sea level in Europe will rise by 37 cm by 2080, the estimated economic damage - assuming that the coastal defense systems are not upgraded - will jump to 25 billion euros per year. However, it is claimed there, if preparation efforts are carried out across the continent, the expected costs will be greatly reduced and reduced to 3.5 billion euros per year in 2020, and approximately 8.6 billion euros per year "only" in 2080.

This is what the world will look like after a 6 meter rise in sea level. Photo: Image Editor, Flickr.
This is what the world will look like after a 6 meter rise in sea level. Photo: Image Editor, Flickr.

In Australia, for example, the Department of Environment and Energy of the Australian government established a tool called CoastAdapt, and it provides accessible information and possible solutions to policy makers and decision makers on risk management, preparation strategies according to local forecasts. Since Australia is a federation that is divided into states, each of which has a local government, each state prepares for sea level rise in its area and issues guidelines for building houses and infrastructure in the coastal area according to the predicted height of sea level rise.

In Israel, on the other hand, there is not a single body whose role it is to outline a guiding policy on the issue of sea level rise. The body responsible for preparing for climate change is currently the Ministry of Environmental Protection, but it does not provide guidelines to entities such as cities, other government ministries and planning bodies on how to behave when planning new buildings or protecting existing buildings and facilities. There are indeed certain bodies that choose to do this on their own initiative, and in the expansion plan for the ports of Haifa and Ashdod The extensions were planned to adjust to the rise in the water level up to 30 cm, but there is no comprehensive directive on the subject from any governmental or planning body.

The sea falls between the chairs

In recent years, two significant plans have been drawn up in Israel that relate to Israel's maritime space: one is "Naval program for Israel", conducted through the Center for the Study of the City and the Region in the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Technion; And the second is "Israel Maritime Space Policy Project" of the Planning Administration, the entity responsible in the State of Israel for formulating a national planning policy. Both programs were created with the aim of creating a planning order in the maritime space belonging to Israel, mapping its users and uses (such as marine reserves, areas for gas and oil exploration and production, fishing areas, port and shipping areas, etc.) and proposing a long-term planning strategy. Although work on the plans began more or less at the same time, the Technion's plan was already completed and its results were published in November 2015, while the "Israeli Maritime Policy Project" is after the stages of collecting the background material and in the process of writing the policy document for the government.

Both programs reviewed the issue of climate change in the context of the marine and coastal environment at a certain level. The recommendations of the Planning Administration on the matter - if there will be any - cannot yet be known, because the document has not yet been published. But according to the background chapter published to the public, there does not seem to be extensive reference to climate change preparations. Dr. Dov Tzvieli, head of a qualified program in "Marine Resources Management" at the Rupin Academic Center, also coordinates the field of physical planning as part of the policy document of the "Policy Project for the Planning of Israel's Maritime Space". Tzviali claims that "at the current stages of the plan, it is too early to talk about issues of climate change forecasts, although the issue comes up from time to time on the agenda in various aspects." In addition, he notes that, to the best of his knowledge, "there is no specific chapter in the policy document that talks about ways to deal with rising sea ​​level (if it occurs), but it is important to note that this document is not intended to solve coastal problems, but to deal with the planning of the maritime space as a whole.' The document, according to him, is intended to "regulate uses of the maritime space, establish priority orders for users in the various territories and determine and adjust activities, while preserving the maritime and coastal environment."

In the Technion's maritime program there is a reference to climate change and sea level rise, but the main recommendations of the program are to invest in monitoring and developing studies that will allow a better understanding of the issue - and not concrete coping measures. Dr. Alik Adler, the author of the chapter dealing with climate change, explains that "the maritime plan is a document originating from an academic institution, and it is a proposal for a policy document. The plan was widely publicized and thus was placed on the government's table after the considerable efforts of many researchers and experts had been put into its compilation for about three years. Our essential and most important recommendation in the field of climate change is that when the State of Israel enters into writing a strategic document on preparing for climate change, there will be a special and specific chapter dealing with coastal and sea matters.

The power plant in Hadera and the desalination plant next to it. Sea level rise may harm their activity. Photo: einat solomon, Wikipedia.
The power plant in Hadera and the desalination plant next to it. Sea level rise may harm their activity. Photo: Einat Solomon, Wikipedia.

And what has the government done about it in recent years? Already in 2009, a government decision was made to establish a committee of CEOs to formulate a national action plan for preparing for and adapting to climate change in Israel. The committee, chaired by the Director General of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, was supposed to submit the action plan within two years of the decision, but seven and a half years later the plan has not yet been published. The Ministry of Environmental Protection stated in response that "as part of the national plan for preparing for climate change, the ministry will submit to the government a document of recommendations that addresses the effects of climate change on Israel's maritime and coastal areas. More information on climate change in the coastal environment can be found on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Too many stakeholders

So, out of three bodies that recently dealt with the issue of preparing for climate change in the maritime space of the State of Israel, only the academic program drafted by the Technion reached completion and was placed on the government's table. This situation points to the main problem in the field of preparing for climate change in Israel, and specifically regarding sea level rise: as of today, there is not a single authority that is actually responsible for the issue of the sea, or an authority that is responsible for drawing up guidelines on preparing for climate change in all sectors. Therefore, the issue falls by the wayside and does not receive the proper attention that such a burning issue warrants.

"The number of stakeholders in this story is enormous," says Prof. Ofira Elon, former head of the Israeli Knowledge Center for Climate Change Preparedness, who currently serves as the head of the Center for Natural Resources and Environment Research at the University of Haifa and head of the environmental quality field at the Shmuel Na'aman Institute. "There are many bodies that have a bearing on the issue of the impact of climate change on the sea and coastal area: starting with the army and the Ministry of Defense, which have bases and facilities in the coastal areas, through the electric company and essential desalination infrastructures, continuing in the cities that lie along the coast and ending with the Nature and Parks Authority, which has reserves in these areas. In the region, which may be exposed to these changes, there are multiple stakeholders, and the fear is that due to the multiplicity of authorities, when a disaster occurs, each one will dump the responsibility on the other.

"The national plan for preparing for climate change has been in the preparation stages for years at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and should examine readiness for sea level rise as well," she adds. "But the problem is that the plan overrules many decrees, and the question is what will actually be done in the end and who will be responsible (both for promoting preparedness and for the response when, God forbid, the predictions come true). In terms of preparations for extreme events, for example, the National Emergency Authority (NAE) should be aware of the conclusions and recommendations and prepare as soon as possible, and realize that expected extreme events are part of climate change.

"There is no doubt that there should be a body that will take care of the issue of preparation," concludes Elon. "If there is an authority specifically dedicated to the topic of climate change, then this authority will also be responsible for preparing for coastal issues, both for the issues at the local level and for directives at the political level - seeing the broad picture of all the different sectors that climate change is expected to affect."

See more on the subject on the science website:

16 תגובות

  1. Haim Another thing - you ignore the pace of this change, a building that is changed today is not designed to last over a hundred years or more - until the water reaches a height that endangers it, the building will probably be destroyed and rebuilt.
    It is a slow process and not something that happens all at once, so there is enough time to build dams to raise buildings and strengthen the coastal strip.
    Stimulus plans prepare against catastrophes that happen in a short time like an earthquake, which is much more likely to happen in our country in the next hundred years and will be much more significant.

  2. Regarding the Port of Herod, today it is actually above sea level and not below. Where the Crusader fortress and the restaurants are located there is a low depression in the middle with grass and at the end there are curves under which the ships were parked, it was an anchorage for ships and all of this was below sea level.
    But this has nothing to do with the fact that the Port of Herod was destroyed by earthquakes, and in an earthquake there may be changes in the level of the rupture surface in both directions.

  3. Cheers - the holocaust to the planet Venus is incorrect because the planet Venus is much closer to the sun, even if you removed all the CO2 from it, it would be very hot and would not allow the development of life in any case.
    Another thing to remember is that in the beginning the Earth was a planet with an atmosphere lacking in oxygen and rich in CO2 and the first life was anaerobic, and despite this and even though there was probably a greenhouse effect of one kind or another at the time, the temperature that prevailed in this situation enabled the development of life, and there was never a situation like on the planet Venus, ever .
    Plants, for example, grow better in high CO2 concentrations, as well as seaweed, so the plants will survive even in the most extreme situations of CO2 in the air (even if you burn all the oil and coal that is in the soil laboratory - after all, all of this was once plants that kept CO2 in the air into carbon compounds, to You will reach more than it was when life began to develop on Earth)
    In my opinion, even if the most apocalyptic predictions of sea level warming and CO2 concentration come true, man will adapt with the help of technology, because the process is slow enough for man to adapt to it.

  4. Cheers - you have a pretty big mistake in the calculation
    Your calculation would be correct if the continent of Antarctica was covered in ice the same thickness as the depth of the sea.
    You calculate the area covered by ice without considering the depth of the sea, because the area covered by ice that is not on the sea, meaning Antarctica, is a land area covered by a layer of ice, which is thinner relative to the depth of the sea.
    The calculation should be inflated, that is - the volume of all the days + the volume of water from Antarctica because, as you said, the entire North Pole is mostly ice that floats on the surface of the sea anyway, and therefore will not contribute to the rise of the sea level.

  5. Even if Haim Abgad's calculations are only close to reality
    After all, they are missing the South Pole / Antarctica
    in which continental ice shelves are pushed into the water (due to warming)
    And this is how the volume of ocean water increases
    and raise the level even more,
    And those who are not aware of the problem must check...

  6. Again and again and again the "genius" - my father - surpasses himself in his "intellectual" responses,
    The same way this time also reacts with a lot of detail and a minimal lack of understanding
    On an important topic that he probably once again understands - yuck!

  7. Some calculations
    The combined area of ​​the northern and southern polar circles is together about 1/6 of the surface of the globe.
    The special thing about this area is that it contains most of the ice accumulation on the surface of the ball.
    If you want to calculate how much the sea level will rise if the ice melts, only ice on the land surface, or held by ice bridges - above sea level - should be considered. The glaciers in the sea - do not affect the sea level even if they melt.
    I searched (superficially) and got no data. But estimates can be made.
    If over 1/6 (17%) of the sphere there is an average of 500 meters of elevated ice (that is not submerged in water), what will happen if all the ice melts?
    It is known that the surface area of ​​the sea is 70% of the surface of the globe.
    We will divide 70/17 and get 4.11. When you turn ice into water you only get 90% volume. That means 500 meters of ice will turn into 450 meters of water that will spread over 70% of the ball's surface instead of 17% of the ball's surface.
    We will get an answer: the sea level will rise by about 109 meters.
    Since the figures are approximate, we only got a reasonable estimate.

    But please don't worry about this little thing. Worry about the real problem: if the ice melts - the earth will lose its air conditioner. When the ice melts - the planet will die. The temperatures will not rise by 2 degrees but by hundreds of degrees. See what happened to Venus.
    What does it resemble? To a bucket full of ice that is on the fire. The water will continue to stay at 0 degrees until all the ice melts. Only then will the temperature rise towards boiling.
    But we will still end on an optimistic note
    Humanity has found solutions to many complicated problems, and there will be solutions to this matter as well. And if one of the studies I read about does indeed justify its findings - perhaps there is already a solution.

  8. Even if the forecast can be exaggerated, it is the government's duty to prepare plans for extreme cases, stimulating features, plans are required by reality. One of the predictions says that as a result of sea level rise the beach in Tel Aviv will reach Ibn Gvirol. It is impossible to know how accurate this prediction is, but one must think about the implications of such a disaster. About two thousand years ago Herod established a port in Caesarea. Today the place is flooded. Try to think what that means

  9. How can it be that the Mediterranean Sea is rising faster than the oceans? The glaciers are far from the sea... and the law of interlocking vessels should work

  10. I confess: I did not read. And yet there is an opinion in Beyyan: we have a Prime Minister (Sarah / Bibi) who does not see a single term ahead. Because of this, any decision that is not directly related to their choices is unnecessary.

  11. Long live a stranger
    It is a bit exaggerated to estimate the sea level rise in Israel as if we are preparing for an apocalyptic disaster.
    The water should rise gradually, it is about 6-10 millimeters per year, so there will be enough time to build dams or raise buildings, maybe in the Netherlands and Venice they need to worry a little more but they also have enough time - raising all the buildings by a meter in 100 years is not that much disaster.
    What's more, this is a limited amount of water at the poles, so the process of rising should stop at a certain level.

  12. Reminds me of Bug 2000 and similar apocalyptic prophecies.
    Avi Blizovsky once wrote an article about all these scientific prophecies that did not come true in the end, so maybe it would be possible to add that as well.
    And seriously: Does anyone know where you can see an accurate and reliable calculation of the amount of water at the poles and how much it will raise the sea level if all the poles eventually turn into water?
    Second, if the poles melt completely, the rise should stop and then the situation will be permanent.
    And it was also nice what it means for Israel of a level rise of 6-10 millimeters per year, that is, how far the water will reach at the maximum (perhaps it would be worthwhile for my grandson to invest in a gondola company in Tel Aviv).
    It has been said that in a century the water will rise half a meter - a meter, it is still not enough to fill Allenby Street like in the movie Blaumelech Canal.

  13. Disturbing... but worthy of being precise, it says:
    "But also extreme climate events, such as those that bring with you
    Intense floods in the winter and huge fires in the dry seasons"
    Which is only half true because in our country huge fires are started by people and not "caused"...
    unlike in climate zones where there are rainstorms and lightning in the summer,
    Lightning that sets fires,
    With us, the summer is dry and hot, fire does not start by itself but by people,
    On purpose or by mistake, the result is – – – a fire...
    Although there are "contingency" plans to prepare for climate change and sea level rise
    But the one who must act does not "open the drawer",
    Unlike Europe, there are no financial estimates for the cost of damages
    And to Srogin the cost of the preparations that will minimize damages,,,
    In order to restore "a body that will complete the issue of preparation" it is necessary
    In "rulers" who will see beyond the tip of their nose and their seat
    And in our environment it is a rare commodity,
    Too bad …

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