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Climate change: 100-year plan to protect Jersey

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FLOOD-RISK maps based on the predicted effects of climate change on Jersey for the next 100 years are to be created as part of a major project to protect the Island’s coastline.

High tide at La Rocque Picture: DECLAN FALLA

On the heels of warnings that the world is ‘in the age of environmental breakdown’, officers from the States Environment and Infrastructure teams are now working with global climate consultants AECOM to develop a staged response plan for Jersey to manage rising temperatures and sea levels.

The Shoreline Climate Resilience Management Planning team recently held an initial workshop with stakeholders to talk about the project’s objectives and timeline.

Maps will be created for six segments of Jersey – subdivided into a total of 34 sections overall – based on a number of projections based on on sea levels and temperature.

Analysis of weather data by Jersey Met has shown that the Island is heating up, with the average air temperature having risen by 1.5°C over the last century.

And it is getting warmer still – 2016 was the hottest year on record and 20 of the hottest years since records began have been in the past 22 years.

‘The long time periods [of the project] are because that is what we are facing – the sea level rising over a long period of time,’ said senior Infrastructure Department engineer Jamie Mason. ‘We honestly don’t know yet what it is going to look like.

‘If we start talking now, we have got our preparedness ready for if the water level does come up quickly. Then at least we have been talking about it, planning, doing the right thing, to be ready to react. In ten years’ time or 20 years’ time we will be in a much better position.’

The group will build on work carried out by the National Oceanography Centre two years ago which established baseline climate change data for the Island.

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That report found that the sea level around Jersey was increasing by 3mm per year, which is in line with global predictions.

Future rates of increase will depend largely on global carbon emissions, which is why the flooding maps will consider several scenarios.

Based on global targets agreed in the 2016 Paris Agreement, which aimed to strengthen the response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the sea level in Jersey is likely to increase by nearly half a metre by 2100 and the frequency of extreme weather events – which test or overwhelm existing infrastructure – is likely to increase.

A previous flood map of Jersey, undertaken by a group of scientists and journalists called Climate Central, predicted that if the sea temperature were to rise by 4ºC, low-lying areas of the Island, including the Esplanade, Le Rocquier School and sections of the west coast, would disappear underwater.

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The world’s average ocean temperature has risen by 0.74ºC over the past century.

In the 2017 Budget the States committed £650,000 in contingency funding for the development of a shoreline management plan.

Once the flooding maps and modelling are completed the team will be undertaking a public consultation this summer.

The results will then feed into the creation of an action plan in late 2019.

Tania Targett

By Tania Targett
Journalist

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