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CCNY landscape architect offers storm surge defense alternatives
Date:11/19/2012

w York's Upper Bay, which is bounded by Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey. Its proposal consisted of strategies to adapt to and mitigate the effects of rising sea levels caused by climate change, including increased potential storm surges from hurricanes and nor'easters.

"We wanted to show how soft infrastructure could be used to transform the coastal edge in order to create a healthier ecology and reduce the extent of storm damage," she says. "There are things we can do besides building higher and higher seawalls everywhere. For example, if we replace a wall with a gradient edge that slopes into the water or we give the shoreline a more irregular shape there will be more room to accommodate water."

Among the techniques it proposed were restoring and enlarging wetlands, creating reefs and archipelagoes of artificial islands and seeding oyster beds. Spoils from harbor dredging and deepening, which is regularly performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, could be used for these beneficial purposes.

Reefs and wetlands would mitigate destruction by absorbing water and dissipating wave energy. Archipelagoes of small, artificial islands would weaken wave energy in the water column. Oysters and other mollusks would biologically filter and help cleanse the water in the bay.

Improved resiliency

"Through our research we found that improving water quality and wetlands ecology would improve the area's resiliency to storm," she notes. "If you can absorb water in wetland areas, it has a place to go. It can percolate into the earth instead of rebounding from a seawall or overtopping a wall. We can engineer solutions to absorb water and slow its velocity. There may still be flooding, but there will be less damage."

Additionally, the report called for using and extending old abandoned piers and extracting slips into the city to allow water to enter flood zones in a more controlled way, thus minimizing dam
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Contact: Ellis Simon
esimon@ccny.cuny.edu
212-650-6460
City College of New York
Source:Eurekalert

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