The new urban future: stilt houses to manage global warming's rising sea levels

This is definitely climate progress. Next up:  urban rickshaws to reduce emissions?

From a Newcastle University press release:

Growth versus global warming

Houses on stilts, small scale energy generation and recycling our dishwater are just some of the measures that are being proposed to prepare our cities for the effects of global warming.
Nakheel - Recreational Dwellings, original version with houses on stilts

Urban Stilt Islands?

A three-year project led by Newcastle University for the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has outlined how our major cities must respond if they are to continue to grow in the face of climate change.

Using the new UK Climate Predictions ’09 data for weather patterns over the next century, the research looks at the impact of predicted rises in temperature – particularly in urban areas – increased flooding in winter and less water availability in summer.

The report “How can cities grow whilst reducing emissions and vulnerability” focuses on the particular challenges facing London but can be used as a model for other UK cities on how policy-makers, businesses and the public must work together to prepare for climate change.

As well as protecting our homes and buildings against the increased threat of flooding from rising sea levels, the report emphasizes the need to reduce our carbon emissions, reduce our water usage and move towards cleaner, greener transport.

Newcastle University’s Dr Richard Dawson, one of the report’s authors, said: “There’s not one simple solution to this problem.  Instead we need a portfolio of measures that work together to minimize the impact of climate change while allowing for our cities to grow.

“Most importantly we have to cut our carbon dioxide emissions but at the same time we need to prepare for the extremes of weather – heat waves, droughts and flooding – which we are already starting to experience.

“The difficulty is balancing one risk against another while allowing for the expected population and employment growth and that is what our work attempts to address.”

Led by Newcastle University’s Professor Jim Hall, the project is the result of three years’ work to decide how our cities should respond to the threats of climate change.

Promoting the development of cycleways and public transport, low-carbon energy and water recycling it also shows how solving one problem can exacerbate another.

Dr Dawson explains: “Heat waves like the ones being predicted to occur more frequently in future are extremely serious, particularly for the eldest members of our population.

“To combat the problem we often resort to switching on the air conditioning. This is not only energy intensive (and therefore has potential to raise carbon dioxide emissions that drive climate change) but works by cooling the inside of the building and expelling hot air outside, raising the overall air temperature in the city as well.

“This can amplify what is known as the ‘urban heat island’.”

To reduce this problem, the authors show that one option might be to stimulate growth along the Thames flood plain as the water helps to keep the overall temperature  lower.

“The problem then is that you are building in the flood plain so you have to prepare for a whole different set of challenges,” explains Dr Dawson.  “Houses built on stilts, flood resilient wiring where the sockets and wires are raised above flood level, and water resistant building materials are going to have to be incorporated into our building plans.

“Good planning is the key – we have shown that land use planning influences how much people travel and how they heat and cool their buildings, and hence the carbon dioxide emissions.

“Land use also determines how vulnerable people will be to the impacts of climate change.  Our research enables policy makers to explore these many issues on the basis of evidence about the possible future changes and to analyse the effectiveness of a range of innovative responses, so they can better understand and prepare for climate change.”

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council.


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Al Gore's Holy Hologram

Idiots. If they were serious about sea level rise they could just feed he damn water into the world’s deserts.


This reminds me of the “nasal deodorant” marketing. You convince people that they have a problem that they can’t sense. In this case it is something like “do you know what the inside of your nose smells like to someone else?” and then tie “nasal odor” to bad breath with someone like “if it stinks going in, it will stink coming out”. So now you have people worried that they might have nasal odor and that might be causing bad breath that no mouthwash will cure. Then you spring “nasal deodorant” on them to “fix” the “problem”.
So you have this “rising sea level” problem that has not actually been observed but someone is going to make a million bucks selling people on ways to mitigate a problem that doesn’t really exist.
It’s all a bunch of “nasal deodorant” if you ask me.


I don’t suppose you can blame Newcastle university for taking our money off the Tyndall centre via public bodies we fund. The North East is a cash strapped part of the UK. But reallly – stilt houses? Please.
If there is urban flloding in winter and water shortage in summer, this is a failure of planning control and infrastructure investment, not a harbinger of climate change. Spend the money there, noy on fancy graphics of Thailand on Thames.

John F. Hultquist

And when the Thames freeze over residents can ice skeet into the city for work and recreation.

CPT. Charles

News Flash: The WBGU has spoken.
‘the WBGU study says the United States must cut emissions 100 percent by 2020—i.e., quit carbon entirely within ten years.’
My response would get me ‘snipped’ so I’ll just go with , NEIN.


We have a dictum “Match and (fire) Pump”.
A similar one in your countries?


It is amazing how nutty the AGW believers are. Not only is there going to be a rising ocean but that it will happen so fast that we have to prepare as soon as possible. Many people suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. From Wikipedia: “Individuals suffering GAD typically catastrophise, anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friend problems or work difficulties.” This must be a new version: Global Warming Anxiety Disorder. It fits well.

spangled drongo
Antonio San

Someone is trying to justify their jobs…

Let’s kind of put this in perspective. My home is on the Connecticut side of Long Island Sound. It was built in 1860 something… a major renovation in 1890 left gas pipe connections sticking out through all the walls…. lately I’ve had a few “issues” about floor joists that were the result of decisions made after the hurricane of 1938… What is it I’m supposed to be worried about again? These…. “people”…. use thus kind of garbage to justify raising my insurance rates…..

Patrick Davis

Three years to produce this report? I wonder what sort of grant they received…

CPT. Charles

Why stilts?
The Dutch simply decided to build houses that float.
That being said, I never could figure out people who wanted to live in ‘flood-able’ areas.
Given me high ground with lots of trees any day of the week, and yes, I would have a fire-break’ [to he11 with what the government wants, or thinks].

Brian Johnson uk

If this UK University publishes these global warming solutions then no wonder so many current graduates can’t find any jobs! The concepts can only come from a grant dependent source prepared to ignore facts and opt for politico-science garbage.


They should make those stilts 25 feet high then because according to Gore they seal level will rise at least 20 feet.
God I hate those idiots… I’m trying to raise money for good research that will benefit mankind and those guys get millions to tell some fairytale that will never come true. I have some good advice for you Dr Dawson, you better make sure people can skate once they get down from their stilt houses… the oceans will be frozen.

Phillip Bratby

This is an example of the waste of money and resource that is occurring as the result of blind belief in unvalidated computer models.


Have these people even TRIED looking at the sea level rise charts?
It simply isn’t matching the predictions.
NOWHERE in either the 2001 or 2007 IPCC sea level rise predictions, is there a flattening or decline in Mean Sea Level. It is always shown increasing.
Even their best “Best Case” scenario from 2001shows at least a 2mm/year lower bound for the current time period. Their most recent 2007 “Best Case” is 3mm/year. Their upper “Worst Case” lines are both higher still.
MSL has been about 1mm/yr. for the last five years, and has been flat or declined over the last three, depending upon how you look at the charts.
What do you call it when a scientific prediction fails to materialize?
We’re outside the error bars here, folks.


And to add to all of that … remember back when the “Trak 2” razor came about? SNL did a spoof commercial for the “Trak 5” with five blades “because you’ll buy ANYTHING”.
And sure enough, you can go to the store today and buy a razor with 5 freakin’ blades.
This is about making huge amounts of money by telling children that there is a problem that they will willingly pay to mitigate when they become adults.
So what do we do about the global stupidity problem?


How did this guy get accredited as a Dr? no, really? Have British academic standards plummetted so badly?


I wonder if these houses on stilts could have moving legs so that when you want to move house you can just walk your house somewhere new.
Out of every negative there must be a positive ; )

Steve (Paris)

Houses have long been built on ‘stilts’, or raised foundatins, at Shiplake and other villages along the Thames valley. Nothing new under the sun.

Steve (Paris)

‘foundations’ – doh!


The stilts might be a good idea to build on the newly drying continental shelf exposed due to potentially dropping sea levels.
Lets call them poor man’s pylons.
If the climate ain’t warming, it’s because it’s cooling.
If the Sea Levels aren’t catastrophically rising, it’s because they are about to drop like a rock.
R U Prepared? Got your new beachfront property extension deed all set to go?


It seems Anthony has realised he has a sizeable UK contingent here 😉
I hope they add anti-freeze to the water otherwise those houses will be collapsing in winter faster than a Geordie girl on a night out.


Actually houses on stilts is a good idea. Here in the UK they build housing estates on flood plains and when the decadel rains arrive complain the government has not done enough to control the flooding. doh!


So what do we do about the global stupidity problem?
Nuthin’. Nature writes it as a zero-sum game.
Someone once told me the dividing line goes like this:
There are those who don’t know, and those who don’t suspect.
It was the latter type that really worried him.


Trend 1906-2008 of Japanese Coastline Average Sea Level:
(Top Figure. Sorry in local language…….)
Our Meteorological Agency says (1) there is no long-term trend, and (2) the sea level shows an obvious 20-year cycle.
You see the portion after 1992 exhibits an apparent 4-cm rise, in line with Colorado U.’s satellite observation, but the long portion before that shows no monotonous trend.

Ken Hall

Them stilts will be useful to keep the snow away from the front door.

Ozzie John

Interestingly, all the stilt houses depicted in the picture above seem to be made of timber, and even include thatched roofs. For groups who claim to be green friendly this would mean cutting down a large amout of forest.
I would have at least included a solar panel on the thatched roof !

Phillip Bratby

The project (taking 3 years) was based on “the new UK Climate Predictions ’09 data”. That soungs fishy; did they have a crystal ball? The UK Climate Predictions ’09 (UKCP09) can be seen at:
Quoting from UKCP09: “The projections are provided at seven 30-year time periods covering the period from 2010 to the end of this century and at a 25 km spatial resolution.” Can you believe it – the arrogance of forecsating (projecting) at 25km resolution 90 years into the future? They can’t forecast next week’s weather. Another quote: “For the first time it provides probabilistic projections of climate change based on quantification of the known sources of uncertainty.”
It’s worth going to the website and reading fantasy in action.
That’s my taxes they’re wasting.


This business of sea-level changes just seems so weird. I kinda thought I had the general outlines figured out. Like a bit would come from thermal expansion but that’s not really all that much. Melting glaciers add the most seems to be the CW. And when it gets colder the glaciers grow and the water that becomes thicker glaciers comes from the oceans so sea level falls.
It all kinda made sense in a non-detailed overall way…
As temperatures fall, there is less humidity in the air and glaciers aren’t going to grow as much. As temperatures rise there is more humidity and glaciers actually GROW MORE in the places where temps are rising but still below freezing–such as Greenland and Antarctica. As long as they remain below freezing, their glaciers will continue to GROW not shrink so sea level probably will not rise too much. (Though sea level was 40-60 meters higher before the last glaciation than today as can be seen in high stands in California so we may have a ways to go yet.)
I mean look at the GISP2 graph:
Everyone looked at the temperatures but look this time at the snow accumulation!!! It looks like the bulk of accumulation occurs as the temps rise very quickly out of the minimum! And then more accumulation occurs as the temps continue to rise and the accumulation ceases as the temps drop quickly into another minimum.
Remember that this chart is Greenland where the highest temperature reached on the chart is -28C or so.
So, when were the glaciers that covered Canada and the upper half of America formed? Not when temps were lowest (when it was driest) but when temps were just low enough that more snow stuck around all year than melted. As it got colder the accumulation would be less and less. So sea level started dropping quite early in the process. And dropped a lot. then more slowly as it got colder.
So we probably reached minimum sea level long? before we reached minimum temperatures. And, more importantly, I think a drop in sea level would be a sign that things may be going south.
I’ll stop now. I just have so many questions.


We’ll have kayaking in the Winter, dirt biking in the Summer.
What’s not to like?

When I get in a bad mood I can always find an AGWER to make me smile or else read some comments about them here. LOL!


If they were serious about sea level rise they could just feed he damn water into the world’s deserts.
Indeed, they could rather easily by building a canal to connect the below sea level Qatar Depression (from memory larger than France) with the Mediterranean.
This poses no real technical issues and has many benefits.
The Qatar (or Qattara) Depression Project was a proposal to build a hydroelectric power plant by connecting the depression (located near Alexandria in Egypt) to the Mediterranean sea by an 80km tunnel. Since the depression is over 130m deep and climate is very hot and dry the water level will reach a steady state, balanced by evaporation. A secondary benefit is that the evaporation will increase the rainfall and decrease the temperature in the area, both welcome changes. There are no permanent settlements in the depression, which is partially covered by hostile salt beds, so no population (besides a few nomads) needs to be moved.
A quick calculation says the amount of water removed from the world’s oceans would be about the same as the sea level rise projected by the IPCC for the next 100 years.
Israel and Jordan have already agreed to do the same thing albeit on a smaller scale for the Dead Sea.
The fact that a real solution exists to rising sea levels and is ignored demonstrates how rising sea levels isn’t a real problem.

This ‘Research ‘ project tells us something about those who live in ivory towers separated from the real world. Theory divorced from data and practice, stilt houses built on Thames River real estate, hampering river traffic and washed away by winter floods….I see parallels with the story of Rapunzel in Grimms Fairy Tales.

O. Weinzierl

Lol, I allways suspected that you got to have your brain removed for some university departments…


re sea level and high stands in CA. It was 40-60 feet, not meters. And sea level didn’t necessarily reach the same level each time during interglacials.
re stilted houses why did they need a study. There are houses on stilts on almost every shoreline in America. Seen Galveston?
Besides, there’s more danger from tsunamis than sea level rise due to global warming.

crosspatch (22:19:19) “So what do we do about the global stupidity problem?
rbateman (22:49:20) “There are those who don’t know, and those who don’t suspect.”
crosspatch asks, rbateman answers… and to me the “those who don’t suspect” is the chiller.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Mebbe that should be a lethal thing the way the ignorant are throwing their little knowledge around and about.
Shame those 5 freakin’ blades are in safety razors…

Patrick Davis

“spangled drongo (21:49:30) :
This one’s always good for the “rising seas” carpetbaggers.
Got to 22 comments, and then they turn them off. Truth is not an easy pill to swallow.
“Richard111 (22:47:17) :
Actually houses on stilts is a good idea. Here in the UK they build housing estates on flood plains and when the decadel rains arrive complain the government has not done enough to control the flooding. doh!”
That’s exactly what has happened in my parents village, near Waterlooville in Hampshire. A sizeable housing estate, It’s in a valley, one side is the A3, the other an opposite hill, in between, which as long as I can recall almost always flooded (That’s why my folks bought on the high ground) and copped snow drifts too.

Keith Minto

Let me track this…….. you turn your air conditioner on, this amplifies the UHI and to help cool your favorite heat island you live on a stilt house over water.
Can we give these mediocre thinkers a mark out of five, or have a vote on their future funding ?


What a complete waste of time, I hope it wasnt tax payer funded. I used to prepare flood risk assessments in the UK for developers and we always set finished floor levels at the 1in 200 year tide level plus 400mm sea level rise, plus 500mm storm surge, plus 600mm freeboard, so any new development will defintetly not be at risk from sea level rise! Do they seriously think people are building their houses at high spring tide level????
Those scientists should go out and read some of the legislation on flood risk like PPS25 and talk to the EA or councils. Seriosuly, we were allowing all this back in 2000 and before, so anything built in the last 9 years at least will be fine, and all new development will also be fine.
They should also read the EU Water Directive and learn about “making space for water”. They are so far from the mark its rediculous. People will develop in land not at risk in the future, not build silly huts in the sea!
The houses on stilts are great until they catch fire or a floating car hits the piles! I once tried to get planning permission for timber houses on stilts built within the 1 in 100 year flood plain and they (planners & EA) wouldnt have it, so good luck to em. Good to see the scientists solutions are just as rediculous as their climate models.
Maybe the scientists should go back to inventing problems and let the civil engineers in the world solve the problems as they have always done!
sorry for the rant, but this is just a stupid waste of time and money, I mean three years missing the point! Land zoning prevents anyone from buildiing current or future sea / flood plain full stop.


crosspatch (22:19:19):
5-Blades – I remember using 1-blade razors for about a week not long ago. Now I’m happy when I finish once. They don’t harden the blades any more. Reducing the quality of the old product to induce demand for an “improved” one seems to be the choice of the time. Also such with attached bars which produce this slimy mess…


This article contains, yet again, the sort of statement that should not go unchallenged:
” …Dr. Richard Dawson, one of the reports authors said…..we need to prepare for the extremes of weather – heat waves, droughts and flooding – which we are already starting to experience.”


What they seem to have completely ignored with their stilt houses is the tide and wave height.
A modest swell, approaching a beach with just the right sea-bed gradient, increases in height. Surfers know this well but you mave noticed that waves get higher as they from deep to shallow water.s
These coastal stilt houses are more likely to become temporary surfers lodges; replaced monthly.
The tidal height is going to be even more un-predictable as the shape of the coastline changes.
Just to give you an idea, the tidal range in the Channel (between France and Britain) varies at points along the coast from 1 to 8 metres. The width of the Channel ( varies from circa 100 miles wide at the west to 20 miles at he east) is a factor in the height this moving blob of water is forced to as it is constricted from the sides. (Very oversimplified but you get the general idea).
Changes in the coastline (i.e. higher sea level = greater floodable area of land) will affect the behaviour of the moving blob of water which is the tide and give lower tidal ranges in some areas and higher in others. All very unpredictable – so do not start planning yet where to build you stilt houses.


Climate doctors say ‘feel the pain’…
By Richard Black – BBC Earth Watch

Dr Dawson explains: “Heat waves like the ones being predicted to occur more frequently in future are extremely serious, particularly for the eldest members of our population.
I worked in a Nursing Home for several years, and my wife has too. What kills old people is cold, every single year, not heat. They never, ever complained about the heat in the summer This was in the UK), and the peak of deaths was always in the winter (although helped by a ‘post Christmas holiday depression, it is generally acknowledged).
I keep hearing about this, and it annoys me very time!

Ozzie John (23:00:34) :
Interestingly, all the stilt houses depicted in the picture above seem to be made of timber, and even include thatched roofs. For groups who claim to be green friendly this would mean cutting down a large amout of forest.
More interestingly, the idea of growing wood fast, then chopping it down to build (or even chip and lay on your garden) is a really, really good way to keep (evil, nasty, scary) CO2 out of the air. Merely protecting trees does diddly-squat. Growing them and absorbing all that (evil, nasty, scary) carbon, chopping it, using it and growing MORE trees is the best way to sequester that (evil, nasty, scary) CO2.
So logging should be actively encouraged by the eco-loonies! Go tell ’em from me….


Building in floodplains is a complex matter. In the Thames floodplain, where I live, new building is tightly controlled because any solid body obstructs flood flows and cumulatively makes flood levels higher, thus causing worse flooding elsewhere. Building can be permitted if the new building is raised on stilts which both reduces the risk of the new building flooding and minimises the obstruction to flood flows.
After the great winter floods of 1947 the Thames was subjected to regular dredging by Thames Conservancy to lower the river bed level and thus increase flood flow capacity. Unfortunately politicians have short memories and the systematic dredging was stopped in 1995 after the Thames Conservancy had been replaced by the Department of the Environment. It is widely believed that this failure to dredge has reduced the flood flow capacity of the river and may have been partly responsible for the flooding in January 2003.
Carbon dioxide, of course, has nothing to do with it.

Dodgy Geezer

“Most importantly we have to cut our carbon dioxide emissions but at the same time we need to prepare for the extremes of weather – heat waves, droughts and flooding – which we are already starting to experience.”
Now we seem to be on the dropping side of a 30-year temperature cycle, there is an increased chance of a snowfall during the British winter.
What are the odds that this now counts as an ‘extreme weather phenomenon’, which is a ‘proof’ of global warming…?
Having said that, Britain is a sucker for any slight kind of weather variation. It is fairly unusual in the world in not really having a set reliable climate. You can’t guarantee the start of a monsoon or heavy rain at a set time of year. You might get anything at almost any time. So there is no strong justification to prepare for any set climate, and in consequence the inhabitants all suffer when any slight extreme happens. They suffocate in non-airconditioned commuter trains if the summer is slightly hotter than usual, and the same non-antifreezed trains are stopped by a few inches of snow. No wonder the Bitish are famed for talking about the weather….

I’ve heard the dividing line goes like:
98% of the population are asleep. The other 2% are looking around in wide eyed amazement, terror, or both.

Allan M

That picture of London at the top looks just like us Northerners imagine it to be!

We can see that ‘sustainability’ is a weasel word. What they really have in mind(?) is ‘subsistence.’ Then the Right (Royal) Charlie can stop stamping his foot and have his feudal system back, and we serfs can have all the benefits of lice, scabies and typhoid.

Bulldust (22:20:41) :
How did this guy get accredited as a Dr? no, really? Have British academic standards plummetted so badly?
A recent (quoted in Parliament) GCSE biology exam question (for 16 year olds):
Do you breathe through;
a. your liver
b. your skin
c. your stomach
d. your lungs?

And even this has to be multiple choice.
Those parents who can afford it are increasingly sending their children abroad for university education.