CLIMATEWIRE | Climate adaptation comes in countless shapes and sizes. In Westchester County, New York, it can take the form of boring concrete domes that look more like D-Day bunkers than green infrastructure.

Unusual coastline structures – essentially hemispheres with port-sized holes – appear in tidal areas along the Atlantic coast to help reduce the effects of wave and storm surges on fragile swamps and coastal habitats.

Westchester County hopes to deploy structures known as “reef balls” as part of Long Island Sound’s “live shoreline” project in Paradise, New York. Edith D. Read the Wildlife Sanctuary.

Officials say nearly 40 feet of the city’s coastline has eroded since Superstorm Sandy hit the area in October 2012, a problem exacerbated by more recent storms such as Hurricane Ida and rising royal tides. near the shore.

Robert Doscher, an environmental planner in Westchester County, said reef balls could be as effective as sea walls, permanent breakwaters and other more expensive gray infrastructure for little.

“It’s like a belt and suspenders approach,” Dosher told Westchester County’s News Magazine. “These are different layers that will break the waves and help stabilize the coastline.”

The installation of more than three dozen reef balls, each weighing between 1.5 and 2 tonnes, is expected next year at a cost of about $ 1.5 million, officials say, and is one of several elements of the Paradise Live Coast project. . The balls will be visible above the water at low tide and will disappear at high tide, officials said.

Reef balls are not new. The concept pioneered decades ago to create artificial coral and oyster reefs in warm water. The Florida-based Reef Ball Foundation has deployed balls of various sizes in coastal areas from the Hudson River and Tampa Bay to Malaysia and Indonesia, mostly to restore oyster beds.

Between 2014 and 2016, researchers at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, and the University of Connecticut completed a pilot project to measure the effectiveness of placing more than 300 of the structures along an eroding coastline at Stratford Point, Conn.

Work. By breaking waves before they reach shore, balls halve wave heights and reduce wave energy by an even greater factor, according to James O’Donnell, oceanographer at UConn and director of the Connecticut Institute for Sustainability and Climate Adaptation. .

The balls will last between 10 and 15 years before they weather. “They are not like rocks that will stay there forever. “Concrete will break down when exposed to air,” O’Donnell said in an interview.

In colder climates, the balls will spoil even faster due to low temperatures and the accumulation of ice.

Sacred Heart professor and biologist Jennifer Matthew, who is leading the Connecticut project, said she was drawn to the idea of ​​using reef balls because they are effective at catching sediment and allow fish and other marine life to pass through the holes.

“If you go out in these areas with a little rough sea and try to plant a salt marsh, it just washes away,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that fish, horseshoe crabs, even sea turtles can access the water and the beach without being blocked by a breakwater.

Reprinted from E&E news courtesy of POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News provides important news for energy and environmental professionals.

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