Rising sea levels: What other countries are doing

Small icebergs floating in Pouch Cove, in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, Canada on April 25, 2017.
Small icebergs floating in Pouch Cove, in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, Canada on April 25, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

THE MALDIVES

As the world's lowest-lying nation - an average of only 1.3m above sea level, the Maldives was the first to sign the Kyoto protocol to fight global warming, and has built sea walls constructed of concrete tetrapods surrounding its capital, Male.

Since 1987, the government has also been reclaiming land. Hulhumale is a reclaimed island that now has hospitals, schools and even government buildings built above the rest of the Maldives.

The Maldivian government launched shore protection projects in 2015, involving the construction of two breakwaters and a revetment, a sloping structure built to absorb the energy of incoming water.

THE NETHERLANDS

The Netherlands is a flood-prone country with a quarter of its land below sea level. This has made flood control critical, and the government has dedicated over €400 million (S$617.5 million) into flood protection a year.

The nation has built a system of dykes - walls or slopes that regulate water levels, dams and floodgates .

 

The Maeslant Barrier, with two floating gates, each the length of the Eiffel Tower and weighing four times as much, closes off the New Waterway, a ship canal, in case of a storm tide. It was closed once in 2007, and may be closed more often in the future, with sea-levels projected to rise.

The Dutch are also making use of a sea wall to protect Maasvlakte, Europe's largest port. The wall is 14m high, the maximum projected height of water in the year 2060, and is built using 20,000 concrete cubes, a slope of stones and constructed dunes.

VENICE

Venice in Italy is facing the pressing problem of slowly sinking into the sea as sea levels rise at the same time.

This led to the passing of the MOSE - Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or the Experimental Electromechanical Module - scheme by the government in 2003 to construct an artificial flood barrier in the sea.

It cost £3 billion (S$5.3 billion) to build, with estimated maintenance costs of £8 million per year.

The system comprises 78 giant steel gates with hollow panels fixed to concrete bases dug into the sea bed. Compressed air is pumped into the panels, forcing them to rise when a dangerous high tide is imminent, The Telegraph reported.

The system is close to being finished. The barriers will be able to support a 3m tide and protect Venice for a century.

The city has also adapted in other ways. Temporary raised walkways are installed in busier parts of the city; and businesses block their doors until the water sinks. Canals are also dredged regularly.

SOURCES: NEWS REPORTS, CITYLAB

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 28, 2017, with the headline 'What other countries are doing'. Print Edition | Subscribe