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WHY FLOATING HOMES MIGHT BE YOUR NEXT HOME
A long-term solution for projected flood prone areas and costal living
Part VI
University of south florida - scholar commons

Why floating homes

Polar Bear on Melting Glacier

Why floating homes

Mother and Child Making their Way Flood Waters

Why floating homes

Southeast Asian Family Living in Flood Waters

Why floating homes

Hurricane Katrina Victims Seeking Refuge

Why floating homes

Flooding in Miami after Hurricane Andrew

Why floating homes

Floating Boat Dock in the Everglades, Florida

Why floating homes

Satellite Image of Shrinking Ice Cap Over a Two Decade Span

Why floating homes

South Florida Projected to be the Most Vulnerable Area in Florida

2009 AQUATECTURE: ARCHITECTURAL ADAPTATION TO RISING SEA LEVELS, BY ERICA WILLIAMS
A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE AND COMMUNITY DESIGN COLLEGE OF THE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA. MAJOR PROFESSOR: MARK WESTON, M.ARCH. SHANNON BASSETT, M.ARCH.U.D. DAVID FRIES, M.S.
DATE OF APPROVAL: NOVEMBER 20, 2009 UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA
ABSTRACT

  • Our world is drastically changing. Temperatures are rising, skies over cities are blanketed with smoke, and melting glaciers are raising sea levels at alarming rates. Although the destruction we face is already threatening the quality of life for billions around the world, it could just be the beginning. What is projected to come in the future could be catastrophic.
  • It is crucial to realize that climate change is already happening. One of the main concerns relating to climate change is that as the polar ice caps continue to melt, rising water will invade our coastal cities around the world. In accordance with sea level projection maps, sea levels will rise 20 feet1, and major cities like Miami, Shanghai, Calcutta, and Manhattan will be completely submerged.2 We must ask ourselves: How can we avoid a mas
  • Instead of retreating inland, adaptation strategies should be devised. This proposal will explore how homes and cities should respond to sea level increase through the implementation of a new architectural typology— Aquatecture.
  • Aquatecture is defined as an architectural adaptation typology used to mitigate and manage flooding (long and short term). With this typology, water and architectural design can unite to produce dynamic and reliable mitigation solutions. The main course of action involves redefining three main living systems: a home, a neighborhood, and a residential tower to resist destruction of rising water levels and to continue city-town- home inhabitation.
  • In addition to adaptable building design, supporting systems will be integrated throughout affected areas. Systems such as alternative energy production, alternative farming, mixed-used industry, alternative transportation, and water filtration zones will be incorporated.
  • With the help of Aquatecture, alternatives to abandoning our coastal cities are provided. Due to the flexibility of site location that Aquatecture allows, this intervention can serve as a long- term solution and standard of living within current and projected flood prone areas around the world.

MELTING ICE EQUALS RISING WATER CLIMATE CHANGE: A GLOBAL CRISIS

  • Our world is drastically changing. Within the recent years, climate change has become a growing concern worldwide. The various modes of destruction imposed on our environment are targeted to be the catalyst to these changes. A substantial increase in hurricane activity, noticeable fluctuations in temperature, and an influx in CO2 emissions have all been noted concerns for many.
  • One of the primary fears stemming from global warming is that not only will weather patterns become more severe and unpredictable, but our oceans will rise and destroy our coastlines, buildings, homes, and communities world- wide. According to climate scientists, sea level rise is "One of the most important impacts of global climate change."3 Sea level has been consistently rising over the past 100 years, and global warming is expected to increase the annual rate by two to five times.[4]

MAIN CONTRIBUTIONS TO SEA LEVEL RISE

  • The vast expanse of ice that has characterized the Arctic Ocean is predicted to “completely melt far faster than anyone has imagined, and will certainly be gone before the century is out.”[5] Current projections of sea level rise "should be of major concern for coastal zones and small islands."[6]
  • The main contributor to global sea level rise is expected to come from thermal expansion of ocean water, followed by an increased melting of glaciers and ice caps.[7] The majority of these ice caps are located in Antarctica and “comprise about 99 percent of the world‟s land ice.”[8] If the Antarctic ice sheet were to completely melt, it would be roughly equivalent to a 180-foot increase. [9]
  • The ice sheets located on Greenland are another contributor to the increase. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if the Greenland Ice Sheet completely melted, sea level would rise 25 feet world- wide.[10]

FUTURE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

  • As the earth continues to warm, it is predicted that average sea levels will rise between 7 and 36 centimeters by the 2050‟s, and by 9 and 69 centimeters by the 2080‟s [15]. By the year 2100, sea levels are projected to be approximately 22 inches higher than they are today. An increase of this magnitude could inundate coastal areas, erode beaches and increase coastal flooding and storm surge.[16] The destruction around the world could be devastating.

HIGHER TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO RAISE SEA LEVEL BY:[17]

  • Expanding ocean water,
  • Melting mountain glaciers and small ice caps,
  • Causing portions of the coastal section of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to melt or slide into the ocean.

GLOBAL IMPACTS

  • As noted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Third Assessment Report (WG II), the current and future climate changes induced by global warming will have such impacts:
  • Increased coastal erosion, higher storm-surge flooding, inhibition of primary production processes, more extensive coastal inundation, changes in surface water quality and groundwater characteristics, increased loss of property and coastal habitats, increased flood risk and potential loss of life, loss of non-monetary cultural resources and values, impacts on agriculture through decline in soil and water quality, and loss of tourism, recreation, and transportation functions.[18]

PROJECTED IMPACTS ON COMMUNITIES

  • It is important to acknowledge that the affects of global warming and the increase in sea levels will not only affect coastline environments, but it will greatly affect the communities within them. With more than 70 percent of the world's population living on coastal plains, the human and socioeconomic effects of rising sea levels will be substantial.[19] A sea-level rise of just 20 centimeters will cause 740,000 people to lose their homes in Nigeria.20 “A sea-level rise of just 40 cm in the Bay of Bengal, would put 11 percent of the country's coastal land underwater, creating 7 to 10 million, climate refugees”.[21] Seventeen percent of Bangladesh could disappear with a three-foot rise in sea level, and approximately 140 million people could be impacted in China and Bangladesh.[22]
  • In the Pacific, there are growing concerns that rising seas could submerge whole island nations. Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia could lose much of their territory and face severe freshwater shortages in the years to come. [23]

PROJECTED SEA LEVELS AND THE UNITED STATES

  • A significant and increasing proportion of the United States population lives within the coastal zone. “By 2100, sea levels could rise 13 inches in Los Angeles, 20 inches in Miami Beach, 22 inches in Boston, 38 inches in Galveston, and 55 inches in Grand Isle, Louisiana.” [24]
  • Louisiana and Texas are already experiencing the highest rates of relative sea level rise in the U.S.25 “Louisiana loses 25 square miles of wetlands per year, due to subsidence.” [26]
  • Sea level near Galveston is also steadily increasing. Though the city was designed to withstand moderate sea level rise it could not withstand the levels predicted to result from global warming. Along the Chesapeake Bay, where many beaches have already been lost, the sea is rising “more than an inch per decade.” [27]
  • “In the U.S., a sea level rise consistent with IPCC's estimates could drown more than 5,000 square miles of dry land—an area the size of Connecticut —by the year 2100.” [28] The highest risk areas are those currently experiencing rapid erosion rates and areas at low levels, such as “parts of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts where sea level is already rising by small amounts each year.” [29]

RISING TIDES: FLORIDA

  • Florida is one of the nation's most vulnerable states for destruction caused by sea level rise. The entire coast of Florida is threatened by rising seas and stronger storm surges.
  • The future looks bad for apartments and homes that crowd the coasts. Rising sea levels are also driving sea water into the Everglades, inundating mangroves, and directly threatening all low lying islands.

THE EFFECTS ON FLORIDA

  • In a June 2009 report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) outlined what Florida would endure if no significant action is enforced to curb consequences of climate change:
  • Over time, sea-level rise will put 99.6 percent of Monroe County under water. In Miami-Dade, 70 percent would be awash, while 10-22 percent of land would be flooded in 14 other coastal counties. This would destroy real estate worth more than $130 billion.”[43] Florida's tourism industry will lose $9 billion by 2025 and $167 billion from beaches and attractions by the end of the century[44].
  • Sea-level rise will destroy important infrastructure throughout South Florida: Two nuclear power plants, three prisons, 68 hospitals, 74 airports, 334 public schools and nearly 20,000 historic structures.[45]
  • Gradual warming and rising of the seas will increase hurricane-intensity, inflicting an estimated $25 billion in damages on Floridians by 2050[46]

SEA LEVEL RISE AND SOUTH FLORIDA

  • South Florida faces the most threats. It will be one of the first regions in the world to be affected as the sea levels rise. Patrick Gleason, a geologist and member of the Broward County Climate Change Committee, noted that South Florida is “among the world's more vulnerable areas, due to low elevation and a porous limestone base.”[47] The state of Florida is already dealing with flooding, and coastal erosion, but is still using traditional and insufficient means of mitigation.

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS TO SOUTH FLORIDA [48]

  • Flooding
  • Infrastructure Damage/Loss Beach Erosion
  • Loss of Coastal Wetlands
  • Drinking Water Supply
  • Loss of Tourism
  • Agricultural/Fishing Impacts

Miami, Florida

  • Miami is ranked number one on the list of top 20 cities ranked in terms of assets exposed to coastal flooding.[49] Miami is the most exposed city to coastal flooding today and “will remain in that ranking in 2070, with exposed assets rising from approximately $400 billion today to over $3.5 trillion.”[50] In terms of assets, “Guangzhou is the second most exposed city, followed by New York, Calcutta, Shanghai, Mumbai, Tianjin, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.” [51]

NECESSITY OF AN ADAPTABLE HOME IN EXISTING COMMUNITIES

  • The desire and necessity for this housing typology is current. Every year houses are damaged or destroyed with flooding.

MITIGATION PRINCIPLES FOR LIVING UNITS

  • Design principles for designing this housing prototype were developed to ensure protection and safety from long and short-term inundation. They are as follows:
    • Lifted: A home that will rise with the water level.
    • Waterproof: Interior protection from water by way of materiality and building methods.
    • Resistance: Dwellings will be resistant to that are floating but are restricted from shifting because of the lifted piling system.

Lifted: Rising with the Water

  • Nautical engineering will be adopted to redefine living unit design and construction methods. To create a living situation that is reliable and adaptable in high-risk areas for flooding, floating dock technology will be adopted. Traditionally, a floating dock is comprised of a buoyant subsurface material and topped with a secondary material. Some floating docks are designed with pilings incorporated that act as guides to allow the platform to glide up and down in accordance with the surrounding water levels.
  • The base of each home will be equipped with a buoyant platform to keep each unit afloat. Additionally, pilings will be used as guides to allow each unit to rise in accordance to the level of water in which it resides. The piling system is designed to promote adaptation to a variety of water levels. Each pilling guide is comprised of five-foot galvanized steel sections. As the water continues to rise and the distance of the exposed piling is reduced, another guide can be linked and attached to create more length. This additive and subtractive method provides reassurance that the unit can withstand any height increase in water levels.
  • Ultimately, this flood protection system can provide a sense of security and reliability for home owners residing in endangered community zones. This adaptable „floating dock strategy can also be very useful in locations where dramatic fluctuations in water levels occur frequently.

REFERENCES
1 “An Inconvenient Truth.” Motion Picture. Paramount, 2006. 2 Ibid. 3 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group I Report. “The Science of Climate Change.” (1996). 364-365. 4 Ibid 5 Alanna Mitchell. “Arctic Ice Melting Much Faster Than Thought.” The Globe and Mail Canada. http:// www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1128-06.htm (accessed 8 July 2009). 6 The Threat of Sea Level Rise http://archive.greenpeace.org/comms/97/arctic/library/climate/seachange.html#e ndnotes (accessed on 8 July 2009). 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid 10 Ibid 11 “Number of People Affected by Climate Disaster up 54 Percent by 2015.” Oxfam America. http:// www.oxfamamerica.org. (accessed 12 Yagi, Koji, "Indigenous Settlements in Southwest Asia;" (Tokyo: Process Architecture Publishing Co. Ltd., 1980), 27. 13 Climate Action, "The Case for Action" 2007, p.21 14 “Hurricane Katrina-Livability Statistics.” http://uspolitics.about.com/od/katrina/l/bl_katrina_stats.htm (accessed 2 November 2009). 15 Roaf, Cricton, and Nicol. “Adapting Building and Cities for Climate Change.” (Architectural Press: 2004), 190. 16 Ibid. 17 Ibid. 18 IPCC Reports. “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” Internet; http://www.ipcc.ch/ ipccreports/index.htm (accessed on 9 March 2009). 19 IPCC II 1996. “Coastal Zones and Small Islands .” (chapter 9). 20 Ibid. 21 IPCC Report. “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/index.htm (accessed on 9 March 2009). 22 IPCC II 1996. “Coastal Zones and Small Islands.” (chapter 9). 23 Ibid. 24 Statement of David Gardiner, Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, before the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee/Energy and Environmental Subcommittee, November 16, 1995. 25 Robert J. Nicholls and Stephen P. Leatherman. “Adapting to Sea-Level Rise: Relative Sea-Level Trends to 2100 for the United States, Coastal Management.” 24:301-324 26 Ibid. 27 "Fragile Beaches Being Replaced by Armored Shore." Baltimore Sun. May 25, 1997. 28 D.G. Vaughan and C.S.M. Doake, Recent atmospheric warming and retreat of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula, Nature, January 25, 1996, 379: 328-330. 29 Mitchell. “Arctic Ice Melting Much Faster Than Thought.” 30 Mitchell. “Arctic Ice Melting Much Faster Than Thought.” 31 Ibid. 32 Hefty L, Nichole. Department of Environmental Resource Management. “Miami- Dade County's Climate Change Adaptation Efforts.” 33 Mitchell. “Arctic Ice Melting Much Faster Than Thought.” 34 Royal Netherlands Embassy: “Pioneering Water.” 45. 35 Ibid. 36 Ibid. 37 Ibid. 38“Silodam: MVRDV.” http://www.arcspace.com/architects/mvrdv/silodam_article.html (accessed 11 November 2009) 39 “Pioneering Water.” Royal Netherlands Embassy. 25. 40 Ibid, 27 41 “Adapting Cities for Climate Change” 63-65. 42 The Crichton Risk Triangle. (Source: Crichton, D.C. (2001) in the Climate Change for the Insurance Industry, ed. Dr. J. Salt, Building Research Establishment, UK. D.C. Crichton 2001). 43 “Miami Editorial Recognizes Sea Level Rise and Threat to Turkey Point.” Eye on Miami. http:// eyeonmiami.blogspot.com/2009/06/miami-herald-editorial- recognizes-sea.html (accessed on 11 November 2009) 44 Ibid. 45 Ibid. 46 Ibid. 47 Cammy Clark. “Florida Keys Ill Prepared for Rising Sea.” Carbon Based: Climate Change Adaptation. http://carbon- based- ghg.blogspot.com/2009/06/florida-keys-ill-prepared-for-rising.html (accessed on 11 November 2009). 48 “Miami-Dade County‟s Climate Change Adaption Efforts” 49 OECD. “Ranking of the World‟s Cities Most Exposed to Coastal Flooding Today and in the Future.” http:// www.oecd.org/dataoecd/59/36/39729575.pdf (accessed on 2 November 2009). 50 Ibid. 51 Ibid. 52 "The World According to GaWC 2008". Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network, Loughborough University. http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/world2008t.html. (accessed on 3 March 2009). 53 Peter W. Harlem. “Sea Level Rise in Miami-Dade County and its Impact on Urban and Natural Recourses.” Southeast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University. http://spacecoastclimatechange.com/ images/Harlem_Abstract.pdf (accessed on 8 November 2009). 54 Ibid. 55 Ibid. 56 "Monthly Averages for Miami Florida”, weather.com (Accessed on: August 6, 2009) 57 “Floods.” Miami.gov. http://www.miamidade.gov/oem/floods.asp (accessed on 12 October 2009).


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