Seguridad en sentido “litoral”

PASADENA – En 2011, la región costera de Japón sufrió los efectos devastadores del terremoto y el tsunami que golpearon la región de Tohoku. El año pasado, el huracán Sandy levantó una pared de agua que inundó áreas costeras de baja altura en la Costa Este de los Estados Unidos, particularmente en Nueva York y Nueva Jersey. Eventos catastróficos como estos nos muestran la vulnerabilidad de las regiones costeras de todo el mundo ante fenómenos meteorológicos extremos capaces de producir intensas marejadas ciclónicas (aumentos del nivel del mar en la costa) y olas de gran tamaño y poder.

Si bien el huracán Sandy, en su cúspide, llegó al territorio de Estados Unidos convertido apenas en un ciclón postropical, sus vientos cubrieron un área de 1800 kilómetros (1100 millas) y provocaron una intensa marejada ciclónica y olas que diezmaron la costa de Nueva Jersey, arrasando pueblos y destruyendo los casinos y paseos marítimos de los que depende en gran medida la economía local. En Battery Park (extremo sur de Manhattan), la marejada alcanzó una altura de 4,2 metros, inundó casas y negocios y dejó a millones de personas a oscuras. También fue extrema la altura de las olas: una boya situada cerca de la entrada del puerto de Nueva York llegó a medir una ola con una diferencia de diez metros entre la cresta y el valle.

Siete años antes, el huracán Katrina había golpeado la costa estadounidense del golfo de México convertido en una tormenta de categoría 3. Con una altura de marejada de entre 7 y 10 metros e inundaciones que en algunos lugares llegaron 20 kilómetros tierra adentro, Katrina causó en esa región daños catastróficos que todavía no terminaron de repararse. En 1989, el huracán Hugo se abatió cerca de Charleston (Carolina del Sur) provocando una marejada de casi cuatro metros de altura. Y esta lista no es completa.

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