What is the Thames Barrier Telling Us?

January 18, 2014 at 7:42 PM Leave a comment

Ever heard of the Thames Barrier?  The Thames Barrier is a moveable flood control device on the Thames River just outside 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 enhance the river’s flow towards the sea.


This is what it looks like when it’s open:

Thames Barrier  TomCorser.com via Wikimedia Commons

(Image: TomCorser.com via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s going to close again today.

Turns out, this will be the 15th closure thus far this year (yes, in 2014).

Here’s a YouTube video posted on January 4, 2014 by Michael Snasdell (here and here) showing the Thames sloshing into a park, indicating that while the barrier is closed and working, the water behind it isn’t being contained anymore. (Fast forward to about 2:30.)

All that said, the point of this post, and what started this saga, was this tweet from Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute and a member of the National Academy of Science, which struck me as pretty darn chilling:

Thames Barrier Peter Gleick tweet 1-18-14

“The day is coming when it will be unusual to ‘open’ the Thames barrier.”  Ugh.  I fear for what lies ahead for our children.







Entry filed under: The Environment, Weather, Etc..

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