A recent conference hosted by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy focused on how planners around the world are designing urban areas that respond to the impacts of climate change.
"The plans for the 2008 Beijing Olympics are notable for their extra security amid human-rights protests. But the 2012 London Olympics' park plans are notable in that they consider a climate-changed future, in which flooding may worsen and cities must minimize carbon emissions.
London's summer-games site straddles the polluted Lea River on the east end of the city, now a moribund industrial area dotted with depressed neighborhoods. The planners looked at climate models and recognized that the area, known as the Lower Lea Valley, would likely be carrying higher flood waters from intensifying rainstorms.
Jason Prior, European regional president for the planning firm EDAW, explained one consequence of this finding at a conference on Friday: the planners ran hydrological models to determine how to widen the river and design new bridges to accommodate the higher flows. "You survey the river systems, then project forward the impact of different flow conditions, and you add the amounts the climate models are giving you," Prior said after a forum on climate change and cities at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, in Cambridge, MA. "You then fine-tune the channel's cross sections, change design of bridge abutments, and design wetlands to catch the extra amounts." Site work has already begun."