Study: Some Bay Area land sinking faster than expected, prompts flooding concerns

BERKELEY (KRON) - The rise in sea level has always created a concern about flooding, but a new study finds several spots in the Bay Area are also sinking faster than expected.

That could submerge numerous coastal areas faster than once thought.

Scientists at UC Berkeley say most of these sinking areas were built on landfill. Now, they'be been able to calculate just how fast they are sinking, and how much more flooding we can expect.

Flooding has always been a concern, especially for areas along the coast or bay, but new research shows flooding concerns are not just tied to the rise sea level--but the sinking of land.

“The combination of sea level rise and the sinking of the land due to compaction of sediments is producing a much-increased flooding hazard around the bay.” Prof. Roland Burgmann said.

UC Berkeley Geophysics Prof. Burgmann says the study he's co-authored finds certain spots in the Bay Area, most built on landfill, are sinking faster than others.

“San Francisco airport, Treasure Island, Foster City, Union City, and some smaller areas, Alameda, Bay Farm, Oakland airport,” Prof. Burgmann said.

Burgmann says increased flooding has already begun, and by the turn of the century, it will be much worse.

The area at SFO is expected to flood at the turn of the century due to sea level rise, but when you add the degree to which the land is sinking, the flood zone increases dramatically, with water covering about half of the runways and taxiways.

In Foster City, the same thing.

"If I lived there, I would be very worried," Prof. Burgmann said. "Clearly these low-lying areas along all coasts are at great risk.”

Burgmann says there's still time for decision makers to do something.

Some options include building levees or sea walls or raising the land itself--certainly easier said than done.



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