Visualizations Help in Planning for Rising Sea Levels

Researchers with the University of British Columbia have developed a computer program called CALP, or the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning, which allows them to now visualize what potential flooding in low lying areas could look like. Effective for planning, especially by coastal communities, the program could show ways to adapt in the case of climate change, especially in the areas of flooding and storm surges.

Not only does the program show the effect of climate change, but it can also take into account techniques used to adapt by showing costs and what the result of such efforts will look like. And while no one solution is perfect for every situation, the program allows affected communities to find the best preparedness plan for their needs.

Some of the available solutions include raising roads, homes and infrastructure above the floodplain; moving parts of the community to higher ground and thus out of the path of flood waters; raising dikes; or even building offshore islands to act as a barrier against the storm surge from incoming storms. The program allows communities to look at each solution and select what works best for them. It even allows them to look further down the road to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts.

The whole project involved landscape planning researchers, land-use planners, members of the public, coastal engineers and climate scientists. Each group offered a valuable part in the process of building the computer program, providing their knowledge of the possible effects of climate change. Currently, this group is demonstrating the program to various city planners, elected officials, and members of communities that could be affected by flooding.

For more information about the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning program, visit: