How Rising Sea Levels Are Threatening the World's Airports

Paula Bronstein, Getty Images
Paula Bronstein, Getty Images

As sea levels continue to rise thanks to climate change, everything from our coastal infrastructure to our internet service will be affected. One of the industries that will be hit the hardest is air travel.

As The New York Times reports, about 25 of the 100 busiest airports on Earth were built less than 32 feet above sea level. In cities such as Shanghai, Rome, Barcelona, Bangkok, and New York, airports are even more vulnerable, with runways sitting less than about 16 feet above sea level.

For decades, constructing airports on low, flat areas close to the water has made sense. These areas provide clear avenues for aircrafts to take off and land, and they can be close to the major hubs that airports serve while also being out of the way enough to reduce the potential for noise complaints.

But the benefits of the geography come with unintended consequences, as was demonstrated the first week of September when Typhoon Jebi submerged the tarmac at the Kansai International Airport in Japan, stranding roughly 3000 travelers. And a storm doesn't need to reach deadly levels of intensity to ground flights: St. Paul Downtown Airport in Minnesota has been overrun by the nearby Mississippi River so many times that it now has a portable flood wall it can erect in flash flood situations. More airports are also responding to the growing threat of flooding with protective walls, pumps, and drainage systems of their own.

Even if coastal airports are able to survive rising sea levels, global warming will still present them with new challenges. A hotter world means thinner air—which makes it difficult for planes to achieve lift-off. Turbulence is also projected to increase by 149 percent in the coming decades thanks to higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. One way airlines could combat the problem is by reducing their own carbon emissions, of which they contribute roughly 947 million tons a year.

[h/t The New York Times]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Fun Fact: More Than 75 National Forests Will Let You Chop Down Your Own Christmas Tree

Want a holiday tree? Drop by your nearest national forest.
Want a holiday tree? Drop by your nearest national forest.
Artem Baliaikin, Pexels

While plenty of people celebrate the holiday season with a neat and tidy artificial Christmas tree, there’s nothing quite like having the smell of fresh evergreen fir needles littering your floor. But before you head to your nearest tree farm or Walmart, think about a national forest instead. More than 75 of them will let you chop your own tree. Best of all, it’s actually good for the forests.

The United States Forest Service encourages people to grab a holiday tree from their land because it means less competition for room and sunlight for the remaining trees and allows wildlife to flourish. All you have to do is find your nearest national forest at Recreation.gov and apply for a permit—usually $10 or so—to begin chopping. The Forest Service recommends selecting trees no larger than 12 to 15 feet in height, with a 6-inch trunk diameter. They usually ask that you select a tree roughly 200 feet away from roads or campgrounds and make sure you let someone know where you’re going in case you get lost.

Different forests have different species of trees and slightly different rules, so it’s best to check with the forest for their guidelines before you rev up the chainsaw. And no, tree traffickers, you can’t harvest trees for resale.

[h/t CNN]