Dealing with sea level rise: retreat, defend, or attack?

By Gareth Renowden 16/01/2010

As a handy follow-up to Bryan’s post yesterday about calls to plan for sea level rise of about two metres over the coming century, a new report, Facing up to rising sea levels [PDF], examines how two British coastal cities, Portsmouth and Hull, might cope. According to the Guardian coverage, Hull could become a “Venice-like waterworld” (which is a considerable challenge to my imagination) and Portsmouth a new Amalfi (ditto). Set aside the hyperbole, however, and the report — a joint effort by the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Institution of Civil Engineers — is an examination of how the cities could respond to sea level rise by building defences, managing a planned retreat, or by building out and over the sea as it rises. The results are a fascinating look at how ingenuity in the face of a severe challenge can create interesting environments — if not, perhaps, a new Venice in northeast England.