Namazu School Discussion:
Dragon Boat Photo by Lajos Rozsa
PORTS AND RISING SEA LEVEL, SOME THOUGHTS FROM A FORMER RIVER PORT:
In Montgomery, Alabama abut one hundred miles up the Alabama River from the Gulf of Mexico, in another century this river front town shipped cotton to tide water by steamboat on the Alabama River. Today only pleasure boats, commercial excursion boats, and of all things, dragon boats ply the river. When I was there sheltering from a hurricane late last summer I had a nice look at what appeared to me to be the dragon boat mooring. It had some thought provoking features. The dock portion was a floating dock in a slack water slip. It is the nature of floating docks that they can adjust to the limits of the scope of their moorings to fluctuating water levels. The potential belaying points for the dragon boats included steel poles that extended well above the highest points that the dock could reach straining on its moorings. Clearly in run away high water conditions where even the floating dock might be submerged, the boats would stay in place if secured by the eye of a line onto these poles. So here was a simple small craft mooring engineered to handle a more than 30 foot fluctuation in water level.
Down here on the Gulf Coast we are used to dealing with only two tides per day, one up and one down with only about a foot and half difference between the two. Our design of port facilities reflects this reality. The same is true to a greater or lesser degree in other ports on the East Coast where they have a little more tidal fluctuation, but still the design parameters of port infrastructure reflect meeting the minimal present hydrological requirements. What happens if a sudden climatic change causes sudden large changes in sea level? Would having just a few key facilities in these placid ports meet the design parameters of a Bay of Fundy facility insure at least some immediate port capacity the day after such a major climate change event? Would this be cheap insurance? But who pays for it, which facilities should meet this requirement, who decides that? We aren't proposing answers we are asking you the reader....what do you think?