Hiking along a rising sea

Experts fear that within a few years the world’s largest oceans will dramatically rise, as stronger storms and melting ice caps combine to new levels of extreme weather. One of the strongest lines of defense against rising sea levels and climate change may be coastal trails on dykes

In the hands of rising sea levels

Can making coastal trails help us prepare for rising oceans and storm surges so we can still live and move along the coastlines, but in more sustainable ways than now?

More and more it looks like coastal areas around the globe are facing some dramatic changes in the dynamics between ocean and land. At first it can seem like this make coastal trails impossible, as movement along the coastline will be more difficult and the erosion more severe.

But maybe if we see trails as a line of defense, something we can move along with and use to repair and prepare for rising seas, we might see trails as a way to face the hand of climate change and make us more prepared for it.

Roads along ocean coastlines are very expensive to build and repair, and they can even make the situation worse, becoming flooding corridors for incoming water.

Trails on the other hand can be build together with dykes in ways that not only help to stop water, but also help locals to monitor, prepare and build relationships both to the land and to each other, to defend their communities.

Hiking walking as a gigantic hand comes out of the sea towards a city and him. illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
Can coastal hiking help us prepare for rising sea levels and climate change?

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Keywords: climate change, sea level rise, place making, trails, coastal cities, city design, resilience, coast paths

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