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Posts Tagged ‘Rain’

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN SCOTT

In dry western Washington, a fruit company compound by Berger Partnership all but vanishes in a shroud of native plantings.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The shift takes place just past Cle Elum. Driving the 140 miles from Seattle to Yakima, Washington, crossing the Cascade Range at Snoqualmie Pass, the landscape seems to dissolve in the span of a few minutes. The ponderosa pine forest gives way to high desert so quickly it’s as if the towering trees had been shrunk by a laser, transfigured into gnarly sagebrush. Dotting eastern Washington’s arid, gray-brown shrub steppe are green pastures, fields, orchards, and farms. The Yakima Valley is one of the most productive regions in Washington, thanks to a massive irrigation project undertaken around the turn of the 20th century. Farmers here grow apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and plums, as well as grapes for wine and hops for beer. The Yakima Valley produces more hops than anywhere else in the United States and more than two-thirds of Washington’s wine grapes, an industry worth nearly $5 billion.

And yet the sparsely vegetated ridges reveal the climatological truth of this place: that under normal conditions, the Cascades are a good enough goalie to prevent all but a fraction of western Washington’s wetness from slipping past them, and the presence of even the smallest amount of water is broadcast in bright pops of color. The draws and gullies appear as gashes of green, yellow, pink, and white, as if someone took a landscape painting, folded it in two, and stuffed the canvas into a crevice.

I take in the view from the cab of a 2016 Toyota Tacoma hurtling eastward on Interstate 90. Jason Henry, ASLA, a principal at the Seattle-based Berger Partnership, is driving. We’re on our way to Yakima, a sprawled-out town of roughly 100,000 people, where Berger Partnership recently completed the landscape for the headquarters of the Washington Fruit & Produce Company, a family-owned grower founded in 1916. Although Henry has lived in Seattle since 1996, the landscape architect has a deep connection to the Yakima Valley. His mother was born in Selah, just north of Yakima, and as a child, he spent summers at his aunt and uncle’s ranch outside the city, exploring and fishing and occasionally helping out in the family orchards. He still has cousins in the fruit industry. (more…)

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Most of the time, Ellicott City, Maryland is a historic mill town with picturesque stone shops nestled next to granite hills and a boisterous, yet still peaceful, river. But more and more, it’s becoming a crucible for the cost of climate change-induced downpours and development that’s ill-placed, if intensely historic. (The town was founded in 1772.) Twice since 2016, Ellicott City has seen branches of the Patapsco River jump their banks after torrential rains, devastating its downtown with two “1,000-year floods,” a description rapidly losing its meaning in an era of increased extreme weather.

This PBS NewsHour segment from the most recent flood looked in on how one Ellicott City business fared: an antique shop where the owner doggedly pushed furniture away from the front door, where a torrent of water outside whisked cars down the street. That is, until a sudden eruption of water knocked down walls, sending display cases toppling like dominoes.

The town’s newest flood-proofing plan, developed with help from Baltimore’s Mahan Rykiel, calls for 10 buildings to be demolished downtown to widen the river canal at a cost of $50 million, as well as a new terraced river park. As explored in Jared Brey’s “Twice Bitten” (to be posted here later this month), it’s a plan that preserves Ellicott City’s future by destroying a bit of its past.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Texas National Guard and Texas Task Force responders conduct aerial search and rescue in Rockport, Holiday Beach, and the Port Aransas area. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, photo by the Texas National Guard.

An unprecedented storm that dumped more than 50 inches of rain onto Texas over just a few days, Harvey was the kind of hurricane that worsening climate change promises to bring back for a sequel. And if and when that happens, the next round of  recovery and resilience calculus might best begin with the results of the National Science Foundation’s series of research grants dedicated to studying the storm’s effects.

Last month, the agency handed out just over $5 million across 59 research projects prompted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, including several that deal with the ecological and landscape fallout of catastrophic storms. Each promises to generate valuable information about flora and fauna left reeling from extreme weather events. But these studies (four of which are detailed here) are even more vital as mile markers down the path toward a future besieged by climate change—either as guidance on forestalling it or living better within its confines.

Anna Armitage of Texas A&M Galveston is studying how the transition from salt marsh wetlands to mangroves might change how hurricanes affect the coast. In Texas, low, marshy wetlands are common, whereas dense mangroves are rare. That balance is shifting, however, as climate change heats up these ecosystems. As mangroves expand their footprint, Armitage (and researchers at Florida International University and the University of Houston) wonders if they might offer coastal ecosystems and human settlement more protection from hurricane winds and rain—at a cost of biodiversity. “It probably doesn’t provide the same value for birds, fish, and shrimp,” she says.

Climate Change Big Picture: If mangroves do offer more protection for coastal ecosystems in a climate of increasingly severe storms, then Armitage says the next question is, “Should we be planting them in restoration sites?” These kinds of “living shorelines,” she says, could be “more resilient, longer-lasting, and nicer looking protection for our communities” than concrete barriers.

Grant amount: $122,935

Paul Montagna of Texas A&M Corpus Christi is studying the inundation of fresh water (via rainfall) into saltwater ecosystems that Hurricane Harvey caused. From initial measurements after the rain, he’s observed increased amounts of dissolved organic matter in these waterways, and has seen (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Galveston Island State Park in the year 2060. Image courtesy of Studio Outside/Google Earth.

This is Part 3 of our conversation about Hurricane Harvey with the design team at Studio Outside in Dallas, which has won a 2017 ASLA Professional Award for Analysis and Planning for its work on Galveston Island State Park. Part 1 and Part 2 can be found below. Correction appended below on August 28.

Studio Outside’s resiliency plan for Galveston Island State Park earned a 2017 ASLA Professional Award for Analysis and Planning, drawing praise from the jury for its comprehensive and forward-looking anticipation of the havoc a hurricane could release. But Studio Outside’s Andrew Duggan and the design team, led by principal in charge Mike Fraze, knew they were pondering ironclad eventualities, not hypothetical disasters.

Over the weekend, the city of Galveston and Galveston Island State Park to its southwest found themselves in the path of Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall on Friday night, a Category 4 storm that has prompted mass evacuations of the Houston region.

Studio Outside’s project, “Storm + Sand + Sea + Strand: Barrier Island Resiliency Planning for Galveston Island State Park,” tracks the loss of habitat and land as perpetuated by sea-level rise, encroaching development, and hurricane flooding. It prescribes soft and green natural barriers to storm surges, assisted by flexible infrastructure. As a barrier island bordered by Texas’s West Bay to the northwest and the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, there are few places to hide from floodwaters or to absorb them, and even less given that this part of the island was partially paved over to accommodate RVs in the 1970s. On Friday and over the weekend, Duggan (based safely in Dallas) and members of the design team (Fraze and Duggan of Studio Outside, and Jennifer Dowdell and Ed Morgereth of Biohabitats) emailed LAM some thoughts on how the storm might play out for Galveston Island State Park.

****Post will be updated as the storm progresses**** (more…)

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