CITY DESIRED BLOG

Time To Get A Boat
Lindsay O’Neill-Caffrey
20 August 2015
This visualization of diverse data seeks to identify specific regions, as well as infrastructure that are presently at risk in order to prompt action on necessary adaptive interventions

“Created with the intention of presenting a dramatic worst-case scenario visually, it overlays sea level rise, wetlands inundation, and flooding of the water table, rivers, storm water drainage, and catchment basins atop the urban footprint to demonstrate how environmental hazards and climate change will potentially reshape the city of Cape Town.”

While some public and private sectors continue to debate the anthropogenic causes as contributing factors to atmospheric changes, the onset of climate change stands to exacerbate already dramatic environmental events that will reshape our planet and urban environments. Climate change will function as a risk multiplier that agencies do not have the practical experience to deal with. It is imperative to find cohesive mechanisms that can integrate government policies with privatized green initiatives to mitigate the impacts of climate change and fluctuations in global temperatures on geographically diverse coastal cities.

The dynamic topographic landscape of Cape Town, South Africa creates a visually stunning natural backdrop for a rapidly developing and expanding urban center situated between the Atlantic and Indian Ocean and the Table Mountain range. Changes in global temperatures will result in increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, the impacts of which will be largely felt by the urban poor. The socioeconomic and educational disparities present within Cape Town create challenges in the dissemination of information on environmental risks and climate science. A second challenge present is raising awareness and priority concern within large portions of the population, who already struggle with a multitude of more pressing short-term needs, such as ensuring basic sustenance for their families. However, in addition to the onslaught of social issues present in the developing nation, there is a wide spectrum of environmental risks that will affect the Western Cape. These can range from droughts and water shortages that will create greater strains on daily water use and agricultural production, to flooding, storm surges, and sea level rise. 

Representing a cartographic exercise designed with the intention of conceptualizing several potential water-related hazards simultaneously, the map aims to further work being done throughout departments of the city government as an integrated approach to creating cognizance of environmental vulnerabilities through the overlaying of distinct spatial data. This visualization of diverse data seeks to identify specific regions, as well as infrastructure that are presently at risk in order to prompt action on necessary adaptive interventions. Created with the intention of presenting a dramatic worst-case scenario visually, it overlays sea level rise, wetlands inundation, and flooding of the water table, rivers, storm water drainage, and catchment basins atop the urban footprint to demonstrate how environmental hazards and climate change will potentially reshape the city of Cape Town. Census data based on the economic index has been added to show that locations within the city limits exposed to high flooding and water-quality risks also contain some of the highest densification of those classified as ‘needy’ or ‘very needy.’ 
The geographic information systems (GIS) data used in the creation of this map originates out of several departments, some of which are not presently accounting for climate change, and others that are by including a ten-percent increase in intensity within their spatial mapping. Presently, the city of Cape Town is struggling to collect and analyze environmental and climate change risk data in a consolidated manner, which makes economic analyses of these impacts and intervention costs difficult to calculate. Therefore, while a fruitful endeavor to express climate change impacts through fiscal representation, a lack of data made clear that a more conceptual map might elicit similar reactions of alarm. This environmental risk scenario simultaneously maps water-quality hazards with the hopes of triggering awareness and concern for the development of the Cape Town urban center and the impacts of climate change on a spatially engineered geography that historically prohibited integration. 


Sources:
Doig William. How Urban Sprawl Is Creating Echoes of Apartheid in Cape Town. NEXT CITY. The Rockefeller Foundation, 05/30/2013.
Le Maitre, D. C., Van Wilgen, B. W., Chapman, R. A., & McKelly, D. H. (1996). Invasive plants and water resources in the Western Cape Province, South Africa: modelling the consequences of a lack of management. Journal of Applied Ecology, 161-172.
Quintal, Genevieve. “Nearly 4,000 Affected by Cape Town Flooding.” News24. June 17, 2015. Accessed July 23, 2015. Charlotte Powell, Disaster Risk Management 
Thelwell, Emma. “South Africa’s Looming Water Disaster.” News24: 2014-11-03 09:12
http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/South-Africas-looming-water-disaster-20141103
Watertable Flood Risk. [computer map]. Disaster Risk Management Database. Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 2010. Using ArcMap. Version 10.2.
Vulnerable Wetlands. [computer map]. Disaster Risk Management Database. Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 2010. Using ArcMap. Version 10.2.
Flood Zones and Floodplains. [computer map]. Disaster Risk Management Database. Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 2010. Using ArcMap. Version 10.2.
River Overflow. [computer map]. Disaster Risk Management Database. Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 2010. Using ArcMap. Version 10.2
Sea level Rise. [computer map]. Disaster Risk Management Database. Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 2010. Using ArcMap. Version 10.2.
Catchment Floodlines. [computer map]. Roads and Storm Water Department: Catchment, Storm Water and River Management Branch Database. Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 2012. Using Arcmap. Version 10.2
South Africa’s National Census 2001- 2011 and GIS data from the Department of City Maps, Cape Town City Government, and the Geomatics Department of the University of Cape Town.
Western Cape State. Environmental Planning, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design. “The Western Cape Province Today. Provincial Spatial Development Framework” 2005.

By Lindsay O’Neill-Caffrey | Illustration by Laura Wainer

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