The construction of two huge dams enclosing the entire North Sea is now viable – and required – to save Northern Europe from future catastrophic flooding, insists a leading oceanographer at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.
Dr Sjoerd Groeskamp is proposing the construction of a 475km dam between the north of Scotland and west of Norway and a 160km dam between the west of France and south-west of England to protect more than 25 million Europeans against the consequences of sea level rises of several metres over the next century.
He argues that the construction costs of the project would be around €500 billion – equivalent to just 0.1% of Europe’s gross national product over 20 years.
“A Northern European Enclosure Dam is now technically feasible,” he insists.
“The maximum depth of the North Sea between France and England is scarcely 100m and the average depth between Scotland and Norway is 127m, with a maximum of 321m just off the coast of Norway.
“We are currently able to build fixed platforms in depths beyond 500m, so such dams are now entirely viable.
“The costs and consequences of the project are huge – but we have calculated that the cost of doing nothing against sea level rises will, ultimately, be many times higher.
Groeskamp, and his Swedish colleague, Dr Joakim Kjellsson at GEOMAR in Kiel, Germany, have now published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal The Bulletin of the American Meterological Society.
“In the calculation, we must also take into account factors such as the loss of income from North Sea fishing and the costs of gigantic pumps to transport all of the river water that currently flows into the North Sea to the other side of the dams,” adds Groeskamp.
“The tide would disappear in a large part of the North Sea, and with it the transport of silt and nutrients. And the sea would eventually even become a freshwater lake, which will drastically change the ecosystem.
“But we have to do something about climate change now.
"The project reveals the immensity of the problems that are hanging over our heads."