Sea level rise: quantification and protection.
Explaining "NEED" in the Dutch TV Talkshow Op1 (left) and radio talkshow NieuwsWeekend (right).
For interviews in English and written pieces in different languages, see below.
Society today is shaped by the climate of the past. Now that human activities rapidly change the climate, society will need to adapt. Among many other damaging effects, sea level rise (SLR) is also a consequence of climate change. Cities and agricultural land are now threatened by flooding and may become inhabitable or unusable.
The best solution to avoid problems is to mitigate (avoid) human-caused climate change. Considering the uncertainty of our ability to do so, I believe we need to simultaneously prepare for worst case scenario’s. I think about such solutions, while I also try to understand and quantify the effects on SLR due to various fundamental oceanographic processes such as mixing.
The figure above illustrates NEED: "The Northern European Enclosure Dam". It would possibly be a solution, if climate mitigation fails. However, this solution is so dramatic that it may feel unrealistic. And yet, it is merely an example of the scale of the problems we are facing. That is, the threat of SLR is so large, that we need to think in solution that are equally large. Let us hope we can limit climate change and SLR, such that solutions as NEED will not be required.
Joakim and I are, to our knowledge, the first to have written a peer-reviewed scientific article discussing an option to enclose the North Sea. We are however, not the first ones to think of a solution of these scales. For example, a nice illustration was published in the Modern Mechanics in 1930 as an idea to create more land for Europe (see figure below). The second to mention this idea (but no more than a mention) is Johan van Veen, as can be read in his biography "Meester van de Zee". An idea more on the scale of NEED was proposed by two British Meteorologist in 1986. This idea was drawn up by P. Cruijff in an unpublished manuscript called "50 jaar zonsopkomsten". Finally, the most recent version known to us is that drawn up by Deltares. None of these are peer-reviewed publications. In fact, since the publication of NEED I've had many emails from people who admitted they had though of a similar sort of dam, but never worked it out. There are publication of Mega Enclosures for the Hormuz Straight (Schuiling et al 2005), the Bering Straight (Cathcart et al, 2010), while Herman Sörgel has mentioned the idea of a dam in the Straight off Gibraltar back in the 1930's (Alantropa). This idea is worked out in more detail by Gower, 2015.
The process Joakim and I went through to write NEED was as follows. The idea of NEED came to me on Januari the 13th of 2018. At that time, I lived in Sydney (Australia) and was in the Netherlands over Christmas. I was thinking about returning to the Netherlands, including the possibilities of buying a house. Considering SLR, I wondered if buying a house in the Netherlands would be worth the investment. I quickly realised that protecting the Netherlands against several meters of SLR would be very difficult and would require collaborations with neighbouring countries. This train of thoughts very quickly lead to the concept of NEED. A long process followed in which I emailed many colleagues about this idea. From their reactions I realised that NEED was a special idea and should be written down and published. Along the way, Dr. Joakim Kjellsson saw the importance of this idea and worked with me to define how we should do this exactly and performed numerical simulations of circulation changes. Together we had a proposal approved for computer time on a very fast German computer, to do these simulations. From the idea to the publication, took more than two years. It was afterwards that I was pointed at the unpublished literature on similar ideas. There seems to be no such thing as a new idea.
The publication of NEED has now been downloaded over 12.000 times and reached hundreds of millions of people through the media. A very incomplete selection of media coverage is found below:
[13-02-2020] - NEED: The Northern European Enclosure Dam for when climate change mitigation fails.
The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS, EOR)
[14-02-2020] - Op1 (Dutch Night-Talkshow)
[11-02-2020] - RTL EditieNL (Dutch News)
[14-02-2020] - Sky News UK (UK News, below)
[14-02-2020] - AD Ochtend Nieuws (Dutch News)
[13-02-2020] - BBC Radio 5 Live Drive (UK, audio below)
[20-02-2020] - BBC World Radio Live (UK, audio below)
[20-02-2020] - BBC World Radio Pre-recorded (UK, audio below)
[22-02-2020] - BBC Radio 5 Live "Up all night" (UK)
[26-02-2020] - Europe 1 (French, no interview)
[29-02-2020] - NPO1 NieuwsWeekend (Dutch)
[01-03-2020] - n-tv.de (Germany, by Joakim)
[07-03-2020] - CBC Quirks and Quarks (Canada)
[12-02-2020] - The Guardian (UK)
[13-02-2020] - The Independent (UK)
[13-02-2020] - Die Welt (Germany)
[14-02-2020] - New York Times (USA)
[14-02-2020] - Algemeen Dagblad (Dutch)
[14-02-2020] - Het Nieuwsblad (Belgium)
[16-02-2020] - Aftenpost (Norway)
[17-02-2020] - Der Spiegel (Germany)
[17-02-2020] - Di (Sweden)
[19-02-2020] - El Mundo (Spain)
[19-02-2020] - NewsRoom (USA)
[20-02-2020] - La Nacion (Argentina)
[21-02-2020] - Welt+ (Germany)
[23-02-2020] - AftoBladet (Sweden)
[25-02-2020] - Volkskrant (Dutch)
[01-03-2020] - n-tv.de (Germany)
[06-03-2020] - New Scientist (Dutch)
[12-03-2020] - Elsevier Weekblad (Dutch)
[23-03-2020] - Kommersant (Russian)
Online Video's (selection):
[23-02-2020] - Info Dose (English)
Online News and Info (selection):
[11-02-2020] - Wikipedia (English)
[12-02-2020] - De Wereld Draait Door (Dutch)
[12-02-2020] - Wired.it (Italy)
[14-02-2020] - Orf.at (Austria)
[14-02-2020] - Blic (Serbia)
[16-02-2020] - tv2.no (Norway)
[18-02-2020] - Meteoweb.eu (Italian)
[18-02-2020] - TU Delft Journalistic Platform (English)
[19-02-2020] - Geo.de [Germany)
[19-02-2020] - Wavelength Magazine (English)
[19-02-2020] - The Indian Express (India)
[28-02-2020] - Science Daily (English)
[28-02-2020] - La Voz De Galicia (Spain)
[29-02-2020] - El Dario (Bolivia)
[29-02-2020] - Klimaschutz (Germany)
[29-02-2020] - Republic (Russia)
[01-03-2020] - Phys.org
[02-03-2020] - GreenReport.it (Italian)
[03-03-2020] - Icona Clima (Italian)
[03-03-2020] - Yle (Finland)
[04-03-2020] - Preventionweb.net