Monday, September 02, 2019


ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AP) — Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria, which has survived invasions, fires and earthquakes since it was founded by Alexander the Great more than 2,000 years ago, now faces a new menace in the form of climate change.

Rising sea levels threaten to inundate poorer neighborhoods and archaeological sites, prompting authorities to erect concrete barriers out at sea to break the tide. A severe storm in 2015 flooded large parts of the city, causing at least six deaths and the collapse of some two dozen homes, exposing weaknesses in the local infrastructure. Alexandria, the country’s second city, is surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean Sea and backs up to a lake, making it uniquely susceptible to the rise in sea levels caused by global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that global sea levels could rise by 0.28 to 0.98 meters (1-3 feet) by 2100, with “serious implications for coastal cities, deltas and low-lying states.”

The land on which Alexandria is built, along with the surrounding Nile Delta, is sinking at roughly the same rate, due in part to upstream dams that prevent the replenishment of silt and to natural gas extraction. That is expected to exacerbate the effects of the rise in sea level, with potentially catastrophic consequences. A 2018 study predicted that up to 734 square kilometers (more than 280 square miles) of the Nile Delta could be inundated by 2050 and 2,660 square kilometers (more than 1,000 sq. miles) by the end of the century, affecting 5.7 million people.

Authorities installed sea defenses to protect the neighborhood, which is home to an oil refinery, a cement plant and tanneries, but residents say it hasn’t made much of a difference. Huge cement barriers have been placed as reinforcement against rising water levels near the famed citadel in Egypt's port city of Alexandria. The city’s antiquities sites — those that survived its tumultuous history — are also under threat.

Rising sea levels threaten to inundate poorer neighborhoods and archaeological sites of Alexandria, Egypt's second-largest city which draws hordes of tourists to its beaches in the summertime. “We are aware that this street, which survived for hundreds of years, could be underwater in the coming years, in our lifetime,” he said. “Every year the waves are stronger than in the previous one. The winter is harsher and the summer is more sweltering.”



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