THE THAMES ESTUARY - LONDON SEA LEVEL CHANGE Slide 2 AN INTRODUCTION TO THE THAMES ESTUARY The Thames Estuary is where the mouth of the River Thames meets the North Sea. The estuary is one of the largest inlets on the Great British coast. The population of London was set at 8.3 million people in 2013, and is predicted to hit an all-time high of 8.6 million later this year. The Greater Thames Estuary is characterised by the presence of mudflats, low-lying open beaches and salt marshes, for example the North Kent Marshes and the Essex Marshes. Man-made embankments are backed by reclaimed wetland grazing areas, but rising sea levels may make it necessary to temporarily flood some of that land in places at spring tides, to take the pressure off the defences. Slide 3 POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF SEA LEVEL CHANGE ON PEOPLE There are approximately 500 000 properties at risk from flooding, including 420 000 properties at risk from tidal flooding throughout the estuary and 85 000 at risk from fluvial flooding in London. This houses 1.25 million peopleapproximately one-sixth of London's population Assets within the flood-plain include 400 schools, 16 hospitals, eight power stations, dozens of industrial estates, the city airport, 30 mainline railway stations and 38 underground and Docklands Light Railway stations, with this including most of the central part of the underground network. Slide 4 POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF SEA LEVEL CHANGE ON THE ECONOMY Slide 5 MANAGEMENT OF FLOODING In urban areas such as London, man made drainage systems may have inadequate capacity or become blocked leading to further flooding. Thames Estuary 2100 is a flood management plan for London and the Thames Estuary, lead by Dave Wardle, Environment Agency. The plan takes into account the impact of climate change, rising sea levels and the natural ageing of flood defence infrastructure to plan and manage flood risk in the region up until 2100 Findings of the project: Water levels in the Thames Estuary are likely to rise by between 20 cm and 90 cm over the next century due to thermal expansion of the oceans and additional water from melting glaciers and ice sheets caused by climate change Future peak freshwater flows for the Thames, at Kingston for instance, could increase by around 40% by 2080 Many of the Thames' defences were built following the 1953 floods and will reach the end of their design lives during the next 50 years. The system includes the Thames Barrier, over 300 km of fixed defences and numerous smaller structures Slide 6 THE THAMES BARRIER https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AokKfziZVJU The Thames Barrier is located downstream of central London. Operational since 1982, its purpose is to prevent the floodplain of all but the easternmost boroughs of Greater London from being flooded by exceptionally high tides and storm surges moving up from the North Sea. When needed, it is closed (raised) during high tide; at low tide it can be opened to restore the river's flow towards the sea. Built approximately 3 km east of the Isle of Dogs, its northern bank is in Silvertown in the London Borough of Newham and its southern bank is in the New Charlton area of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Slide 7 THAMES FLOODING!!!!!!!!!!!!! Recently (LAST WEEKEND) the Environment Agency issued a flood alert for the Thames, warning that riverside properties from Putney Bridge to Teddington Weir could be affected. The Thames Barrier forecasting and response team also warned on Friday about the first of a number of "very high tides" in London. Some of London's most iconic landmarks are on the Environment Agency's "at risk" list, including the Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, City Hall, Canary Wharf, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Kew Gardens and the O2 Arena.