PDX could be underwater as climate change pushes up sea levels
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Rising sea levels due to climate change could submerge Portland International Airport.
News coverage of Superstorm Sandy pushed the impacts of rising waters to the forefront, prompting new climate change debates.
Meanwhile, in Southern Florida, ongoing beach erosion near Fort Lauderdale caused local governments to call a joint meeting to discuss the implications of rising waters as it played out in real time.
But tucked up along the Columbia River miles from the ocean, Portlanders, while plenty soggy this time of year, may not be thinking about what a sea-level rise would do to their city.
A recent graphic in The New York Times, based on elevation data from the U.S. Geological Survey and tidal level data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows that a 12-foot sea level rise would put the Portland International Airport under water. A 25-foot sea level raise would yield about two miles of Portland's north side to the Columbia.
Management at the airport is not yet putting contingency plans in place for a warming climate — the 12-foot sea level increase isn't expected until 2300, given current conditions.
"While we are always planning for possible near-term natural disasters, such as flooding that might be associated with more intense weather patterns possibly related to climate change, we are not currently involved in planning for possible far distant sea rise associated with climate change," said Steve Johnson, Port of Portland spokesman.
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