Gibraltar Strait Dam Macroprojects
Richard Brook Cathcart
e-mail Richard Cathcart
Between World War I and II, the German architect-engineer Herman Sorgel (1885-1952) organized a pan-European effort to realize the Atlantropa Project, an effort intended to reduce by natural evaporation the Mediterranean Sea's area by 30% with an artificial closure of the Strait of Gibraltar, exposing new land (former continental shelf). Until 1952, Sorgel sought to control North Atlantic Ocean seawater inflow to generate 50,000 Mwe of hydroelectricity for Europe and North Africa. By 1997, R. G. Johnson postulated erection of a permeable partial dam at Gibraltar Strait to control the outflow of seawater from the Mediterranean Sea without generating any electricity. His purpose was to prevent a new ice age. The most important geoscience facts, assumptions and climatological prognostications related to both of these environmentally complex 20th century macro-engineering projects are briefly examined, with Sorgel's pre-Space Age techno-visionary viewpoint emphasized.
Immediate fixation of macroengineers on the Strait of Gibraltar is centered on proposals to span it with a bridge – perhaps as blueprinted by T. Y. Lin (1912-2003) – or a sub-sea bored tunnel to function as a Europe-Africa permanent transportation linkage across the Strait of Gibraltar (Starossek, 1996). Completed hydroelectric dam macroproject proposals focused on the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz (Schuiling, 2005) and on the Red Sea at Bab-el-Mandeb (Schuiling, in press) enhances the possibility that a Depression-era macroproject could promote a 21st century emplacement of a hydraulic barrier throttling Gibraltar Strait's seawater inflow/outflow. A 17 May 1991 Special Issue of Bauwelt (Vol. 82, no. 18/19, pages 938-977), "Ganz Grosses" [Quite Big] renewed the world-public's interest in the pre-WW II scope of macro-engineering as directly related to the Mediterranean Sea Basin as a developable unitary region inhabited by truly Mediterranean peoples (Ben-Artzi, 2004).
About 33% of the world's humans live within 100 kilometers of a shoreline and 100 vertical meters of present-day sea level (Small and Nicholls, 2003). An expected future rise in the global sea level, which will inevitably influence the Mediterranean Sea Basin's natural 13,000 km shoreline (Fabbri, 1993), has instilled reasonable trepidation in Italy's public that is evidenced by the public debate since May 2004 about the macro-engineering appropriateness or inappropriateness of shielding Venice against seasonal high-tide/storm surge seawater flooding (Fagherazzi, 2005) by a 2.3–4.3 billion Euro lift-gated permanent dam (Fletcher and Da Mosto, 2004). Worldwide, approximately 10 million persons today live below contemporary sea level and as our world's sea level rises, more people may be fated to do so also as, for example, in the Mediterranean Sea Basin (Perissoratis and Georgas, 1994).
Historians of technology recently reviewed the old macroproject proposal known finally as the "Atlantropa Project" – memorialized in the German-language version of the WWW free encyclopedia Wikipedia – but with no aim to revive it, merely to note its proper place in the century-long unfulfilled experience of Europe's economic and social integration (Trischler and Weinberger, 2005). The on-going shift in the Mediterranean Sea Basin's human population demography may foster a new, favoring regional public attitude on the increasing practicality and imperative necessity of a revamped Atlantropa Project!
During April-September 2003 the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, exhibited "Klima: das Experiment mit dem Planeten Erde" (Hauser, 2002). By displaying the inspiring drawings of the envisioned facilities planned for the Gibraltar Strait Dam and the empoldered Mediterranean Sea's new harbors (Voigt, 1998; Gall, 1998) the world-public was informed of macro-engineering's recounted global and regional history. In 1929, the impresario Herman Sorgel (1885-1952) first detailed a concrete arched-in-plan gravity dam to adjustably control all seawater entering the Mediterranean Sea from the North Atlantic Ocean (Spiering, 2002). With powerhouses generating an estimated 50,000 Mwe, the Strait of Gibraltar dam was the main infrastructure facility intended to unleash chiefly European farm and city reclamation of the exposed continental shelf that would soon appear because closure of the Mediterranean Sea Basin can cause a natural evaporative reduction of the sea. (Dams recently proposed and critically analyzed in peer-reviewed journals for the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf are justified similarly.) Seawater coming from the Black Sea (with a Dardanelle sill depth of 70 m) and the Suez Canal (20 m as of 2006) will still find entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, although its seawater flows must be entirely controlled by dams and sea locks if massive hydraulic erosion is not to take place.
Herman Sorgel imagined and proselytized for the rapid creation of additional European colonies in Africa; Greater Europe was to extend from the North Pole to southern Africa (O'Loughlin and Wusten, 1990). Other persons later announced similar techno-visions. For example, Henry John Leir (1900-1998) in his La Grande Compagnie de Colonisation: Documents of a New Plan (1937) presented a fictional macroproject plan for a culturally united Europe geographically astride a reduced Mediterranean Sea and situated in a world wherein enlightened industrialists consistently help humanity achieve lasting peace. Until the late 1950s, Europeans continually pursued a geopolitical and geoeconomic union with northern Africa (Muller, 2000).
In 1950, the population of the Mediterranean Sea Basin was 170 million Europeans (73%) and 63 million North Africans (27%); by 2025, there could be 305 million Europeans (44%) and 381 million North Africans (56%). World War II casualties in Europe, post-World War II Muslim immigrants to France from Algeria and Germany's 1950s Muslim guest-worker program, together with high birthrates amongst European Muslims and low birthrates amongst traditional Europeans are the chief causes of the remarkable demographic shift. The African Union was proclaimed on 1 March 2001 and on 29 October 2004 Europe's leaders signed a European Union Constitution. During 2005, however, voters in the Netherlands and in France failed to affirm the proposed Constitution, making the tentative Constitution inoperative politically.
Currently, a demographic shift in Europe seems to presage an epoch – occurring, perhaps, sometime around 2010-2050 – that will forever alter Europe's still distinctive culture: post-World War II Europe has been colonized by Muslims mainly from North Africa. By 2010-2050, Muslims in southern Europe (Spain, France, and Italy) may form ~25% of the total population and working Muslim adults may total ~40% of the available labor force. This means that an almost forgotten macroproject such as the Gibraltar Strait Dam and its associated infrastructure developments may find future acceptance amongst voting citizens of southern Europe and northern Africa. Forecast future climate regimes in the Mediterranean Sea Basin are likely to be the initial stimulation for a re-thinking of the old macroproject proposal (Kepner, 2005). "By��North Africa's population should exceed Southern Europe's by close to 100 million people" (Sandell (2004).
The Netherlands owns infrastructure worth approximately $2.5 trillion – put into perspective, that is equivalent to the annual USA-European Union commercial relationship – that has been emplaced to protect the people of that country from unwanted seawater incursions. There appears to be a 1% chance that a 1 m rise in global sea level will come to pass during the 21st century. [A 2 m rise is the current threshold defining "dangerous anthropogenic" alteration of the world's ocean level (Hansen, 2005).] Assuming a cost of $1 million/linear kilometer, a total safeguard for the Mediterranean Sea Basin's coast from incursive future sea level rise might cost almost $13 trillion! Of course, that is an excessive cost, quite unlikely to ever be considered anything other than ultimate limitation (Valiela, 2006). Such a completed macroproject would resemble David Ely's imagined East Coast USA "dyke-wall" of AD 2064 postulated in his science-fiction novel A Journal of the Flood Year (1992)! Since "miscalculation or sheer ignorance of cost and difficulties was the key to launching a number of great and successful enterprises, from canals and railroads to mining and manufacturing" (Sawyer, 1952), it might seem best, even wise, to glibly gloss over the Gibraltar Strait Dam's dangers and difficulties in public media so that modern-day macroengineers can be inspiring and calm, reassured by displayable positive cost/benefit analyses, attractive detailed construction blueprints and privately adjustable building timetables! As the 37th CIESM – The Mediterranean Science Commission Congress (7-11 June 2004) collectively generalized, the activities of humans tends to "globalize" the Mediterranean Sea, both biologically and otherwise. Nevertheless, some of the details of this possible macroproject proposal are revealed below. The optimal style of dam building is specific to the particular macroproject, the nature of the geophysical worksite (Anon., 2005) as well as social uncertainty, the undertaking management organization's experience, the operational complexities of many kinds of construction machinery and worker nationalities, the macroproject's situational geography and the logistics of its required compositional materials.
The Mediterranean Sea
Kenneth Jinghwa Hsu's The Mediterranean Was a Desert (1983) popularized the 1972 geological theory of the total desiccation of a closed off Mediterranean Sea – during the Messinian when the Strait of Gibraltar did not exist – that may have occurred for a period of several hundred thousand years more than 5.3 million years ago when virtually all seawater evaporated to form an arid saltpan valley several kilometers deep. The validity of Hsu's geological theory remains in question (Hardie and Lowenstein, 2004). Eventually, the Mediterranean Basin was refilled with seawater flowing mostly from the North Atlantic Ocean (Loget, 2005).
Today's Strait of Gibraltar is a shallow (320 m deep) and narrow channel (13 kilometers wide) and it is the Mediterranean Sea's only natural connection with the North Atlantic Ocean. The Mediterranean Sea's area (about 2.5 × 1012 m2) amounts to < 0.7% of the surface of the world-ocean's surface and < 0.3% its volume. The below-sea level region, ranging in depth from 0 to 200 meters, comprising the continental shelf is 30% of the total (seafloor) area. Supposing the Strait of Gibraltar to be closed, the present-day rate of sea level depression caused by normal evaporation from the Mediterranean Sea could be about 0.5 m/yr; uncovering all of the continental shelf to add new land to humanity's resources base would require four centuries. Were climatic conditions in the Mediterranean Sea Basin to change drastically, the rate of depression would also change impressively in accordance with the nature of the change, whether natural or unnatural (Sanchez, 2004). The temperature of seawater's surface layer is a governing physical property that influences the transfer of heat energy, momentum, water vapor and gases between the sea and the air (Matsoukas et al., 2005). River discharge changes caused by climate change also will affect the Mediterranean Sea's rate of depression owing to evaporation (Struglia, 2004); it is anticipated that southern Europe and northern Africa will likely endure 10-30% decreases in river runoff and the season of peak runoff – especially in the eastern portion of the Mediterranean Sea Basin – will shift to Winter and early Spring where runoff is mostly from a snow-dominated mountain region (Milly et al., 2005; Barnett et al., 2005). Present-day ecosystem service supply in the Mediterranean Sea Basin is vulnerable to known global change trends (Schroter, 2005). Most of the airborne moisture leaving the Mediterranean Sea Basin later descends as precipitation on western Russia and northern Europe; approximately 70% of Europe's recent rapid rise in temperature is caused by water vapor feedback (Philipona, 2005). A rise of sea level within the Basin will directly impact all container transshipment gateway seaports – commercial shipping harbors with supporting hinterlands that are rich in industrial and agricultural production and consumption – such as Port Said, Damietta, Marsaxllok, Gioia Tauro, Algeciras: a sea level rise will deepen all harbors while a fall would make all harbors shallower. Trade within the Mediterranean Sea, served by more than 305 seaports including Barcelona, Marseilles, Genoa, Piraeus and Izmir will also be greatly affected by future changes of harbor navigation depths. (International marine shipping steel containers lost overboard from ships traversing the Mediterranean Sea are equivalent to the clay amphorae of Greek and Roman times. Some of our ancestors were just as polluting of the environment as some of our peoples are today!)
Gibraltar Strait Dam
Macro-engineers have tenaciously considered a linkage of Europe (Spain) and Africa (Morocco) by railroad tunnel or automotive vehicle-carrying bridge (Lin and Chow, 1991). On 24 October 1980 the "Treaty of Spanish-Moroccan Cooperation to Build a Fixed Link Between Spain and Morocco" was signed; a decision by Spain and Morocco whether to start digging a long and deep tunnel will be announced during 2008. A tunnel is a linear macroproject that has unique problems in subterranean ingress and egress as well as material logistics and the daunting potential for life-threatening macro-problems such as unstable rock, high ground water pressure in undersea tunnels, equipment fires, gas intrusions and gas explosions. The Greek myth of Atlantis, as well as the history of the 1 November 1755 Lisbon, Portugal earthquake and tsunamis, indicate other hazards affecting any macroproject, whether bridge, tunnel or dam, put into the Strait of Gibraltar (Gutscher, 2005). Japan's earthquake-shaken undersea Seikan Tunnel, connecting Hokkaido and Honshu islands by a high-speed railroad, has operated safely since 13 March 1988.
First advanced as a plan to control the flow of the North Atlantic Ocean's surface layer waters into the Mediterranean Sea for the purpose of hydroelectric production and grand-scale continental shelf land reclamation for settlement, after World War II the Atlantropa Project was publicly touted by two technology historians, separated by a demographic generation, as a "macroproject of the future". Walter H. G. Armytage (1961) and Ervan Garrison (1991) voiced their professional convictions in popular books that a Strait of Gibraltar Dam generating electricity was very desirable, potentially a key piece of world civilization's infrastructure. Without endorsement, Henry Petroski recounted Atlantropa's intellectual history and its obvious geographical impacts (Petroski, 2004). The Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution – commonly referred to as the "Barcelona Convention" – was legally adopted on 16 February 1976. Operating since April 2005, Europe's fastest super-computer (42 teraflops) – 'MareNostrum' at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center www.BSC.es in Spain – awaits funded programming aimed at complete solutions of air/water circulations of the Mediterranean Sea Basin!
In marked contrast, Stephen Henry Schneider has alluded to this Mediterranean Sea Basin reclamation macroproject plan (Nuzzo, 2005). But, Schneider misunderstood and inaccurately described the Atlantropa Project – he badly jumbled all the germane geographical facts (Schneider, 1996). A Herman Sorgel-planned Gibraltar Strait Dam would never cause the Mediterranean Sea's level to rise, raising the ridiculous possibility of enlarging northern Africa's Lake Chad via a "Second Nile River" dug to carry salt water overflow from the Mediterranean Sea! Schneider also claimed that Sorgel's dam could degrade northern Europe's climate owing to the stoppage of the saline seawater outflow from the Mediterranean Sea into the North Atlantic Ocean. Herman Sorgel's Depression-era plan foresaw the creation of our world's largest man-made lake in the Sahara. If the Congo River, which carries 1320 to 1775 km3/yr, were dammed at Stanley Canyon, it would impound a very large lake that Sorgel dubbed the "Congo Sea". A tributary of the Congo River, the Ubangi River, could then flow northwest, joining the Chari River. The diverted freshwater would finally be deposited in Lake Chad through the Chari River. Lake Chad could be increased greatly in volume, forming the "Chad Sea". The Congo Sea and Chad Sea might cover as much as 10% of Africa. (There is the macro-engineering possibility of diversion without a Congo Sea's creation.) The Chad Sea's creation, with an area roughly 40% of the 2.5 × 106 km2 Lake Chad Basin would beneficially eliminate windblown dust exportation from North Africa (Evans, 2004); dust removed from North Africa contains soil contaminants and harmful bacteria. A "Second Nile River" freshwater artery, Herman Sorgel postulated, could be induced to flow north across the uninhabited central Sahara, creating an irrigated region resembling the human-occupied narrow Nile River Valley in Egypt downstream from the Aswan High Dam. Sorgel's "Second Nile River" is likely to emulate Nature's "First Nile River" by becoming a human-instigated Mediterranean Sea nutrient enrichment source (Nixon, 2004), especially after vast adjacent swathes are systematically permanently settled (Cathcart and Badescu, 2004).
Late in the 20th century, Robert Glenn Johnson, suspecting that the increasing salinity of the seawater exiting the Mediterranean Sea at the Strait of Gibraltar might be the near-term future cause of a new Earth ice age – the beginning of its onset predicted 30 years hence – proffered a controversial proposal to study the macro-engineering concept of a porous barrier, a permeable rubble-mound dam, emplaced in the fluid connection between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea (Johnson, 1997). Johnson's artificial reef-like rubble pile seawater flow throttle was only intended to slow the outflow of highly saline water, which eventually affects the essential physical characteristics of seawater in the North Atlantic Ocean, in order to prevent ice sheet formation in northeastern Canada. His anti-ice age macroproject rests entirely on the proposition that Egypt's Aswan High Dam (closed in 1965) has caused the measured increased salinification of exiting Mediterranean Sea water; Johnson's rubble mound dam – really a proposal for an anthropogenic submarine ridge – becomes an expensive and worthless techno-fix if the Aswan High Dam were simply breached! If the Aswan High Dam were suddenly demolished naturally – as in Michael Heim's terrifying novel Aswan! (1972) – or simply breached by macroengineers, release of the reservoir's entire contents would raise temporarily the Mediterranean Sea's level by about 6.6 cm. (A new Ice Age could cause global sea level to lower! Both the elevating and the declining global sea level will form new base level's of continental and islandic erosion and also affect national legal systems of real property ownership.) Johnson's neo-ice age concept of past and future climate changes is fully and carefully described in Secrets of the Ice Ages: The Role of the Mediterranean Sea in Climate Change (2002). By 2006, the scientific controversy over R. G. Johnson's theory remained scientifically unresolved (Bryden and Webb, 1998; Skliris and Lascaratos, 2004). Both Johnson's and Sorgel's barriers would alter (de-tune) the Mediterranean Sea's tides, in some instances (such as in the case of the Aegean Sea) possibly doubling the amplitudes of its semidiurnal tides. Furthermore, changes of the Mediterranean Sea's wave climate will also occur (Lionello and Sanna, 2005), forcing prudent revision of existing ship weather-routing procedures. In addition, both barriers would probably terminate the anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide gas drawdown currently performed by the Mediterranean Sea (Alvarez, 2005). It is doubtful that the Gibraltar Strait Dam could imitate China's Great Wall as a notable impediment to gene flow (Su, 2003).
The world's first commercial hydroelectric dams began operating from 1880-82. Commencing about 1929, and ceasing by about 1953, the German architect Herman Sorgel proposed the construction of the world's most powerful hydroelectric dam, which he estimated capable of generating 50,000 Mwe at the Strait of Gibraltar alone, when the Mediterranean Sea had been reduced by 200 m. Sorgel's "Atlantropa" means a macroproject that suggests a "turning towards the North Atlantic Ocean" for hydroelectricity. Nowadays, all electricity manufactured at the Gibraltar Strait Dam's powerhouses could be efficiently transmitted to consumers within the Mediterranean Basin Transmission Super Grid by superconducting power-lines (Hawsey, 2005). One of us, during 1998, opted for an adapted Sorgelian edifice, constructed with a very strong shear key, that might operate successfully – in an economic sense – with only a 50-m reduction of that physiographic relief unit's Mediterranean Sea Basin – wide controlled sea level – in fact, an artificial seawater still-stand – uncovering a new area of land amounting to about 8% of the Mediterranean Sea's present surface area. Neither Sorgel nor Cathcart (1998) thought a calculated optimal efficiency level for an impermeable gravity dam manipulating all natural seawater inflow through the Strait of Gibraltar was useful; Cathcart and others are presently calculating the amount of electrical power – derived from Siphonic hydropower water-compressed air turbines utilizing a 1 m drop from the North Atlantic Ocean to the reduced Mediterranean Sea – that can be generated at a cheaper and less intrusive Gibraltar Strait Barrier comprised of a strong watertight woven or non-woven textile screen as a function of the future increase/decrease of the Basin's human populace; Matthiesen and Haines (2003) were first to continuously model the changing strait geometry to the present time from 18,000 BP. Francis turbines (spinning electricity generators) operating at 80% efficiency, permits the generation of 392 W/s for every liter of seawater dropped 50 meters from the North Atlantic Ocean to the vertically reduced Mediterranean Sea. The peak electricity load of the current Mediterranean Power Pool is expected to be ~278 GW by 2010.
A 50 m reduction unloads the sub-sea crust by ~125 × 109 tonnes and the powerhouses could generate at one or more locales, in total, between 15,000 and 20,000 Mwe or about as much as Spain's largest electricity generating and distributing organization, Endesa. During 2005, a drought in Europe sapped hydroelectric power production (Koeppen, 2005) but the Strait of Gibraltar Dam will never suffer that unpredictable difficulty since its head-pond is the global ocean! Its power can be transferred over a region consisting of three time zones. Also, power can be manufactured at any river mouth where the sea is 50 m lower after the Mediterranean Sea is "suddenly" reduced. Members of the Candida Oancea Institute in Bucharest, Romania, estimate that Herman Sorgel's dam in the Strait of Gibraltar would probably entail a capital investment of $100 billions, about the early 21st century property tax valuation of New York City's Manhattan Borough. The average annual avoided oil equivalent might be about 0.78 billion barrels/year; if a barrel of oil costs $50, then a saving of $39 billion/year on oil purchases is mathematically indicated. Of course, there will also be maintenance costs (labor, materials associated with preserving the operating efficiency and/or physical condition of the facility) as well as the operation costs (supervising and engineering expenses).
About 10,000 years BP, the Mediterranean Sea was 50 m lower than today, without ~125 × 106 km3 of seawater that is present now; only 0.0168% (21 × 103 km3) might be off-set by deliberate channeling of seawater from our world's ocean to below-sea level regions on land such as the Dead Sea, Lake Assal, Lake Eyre, Caspian Sea Basin, Salton Sea (Newman and Fairbridge, 1986). Plans for a Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline are underway (Gavrieli et al., 2005). All other factors remaining the same, if the seawater surface was under a Mediterranean Sea air column that was 50 m thicker by 2050 than it is today, then it is likely that the air's temperature at the air-sea boundary would be about 0.30°C warmer. Adding the probable temperature increase due to global warming (ranging, say, from 2.1° to 4.40°C) by 2080 AD (Schroter, 2005) plus the "atmosphere thickening factor" of 0.30°C means that seawater evaporation may be greater than anticipated so far. In other words, a 50 m reduction might be finished in less than a century. Incidentally, there might be an increase in the number and severity of Mediterranean Sea Basin hurricanes as a result of seawater warming (Emanuel, 2005). The 6.3 km-long Corinth Canal (Gkida, 2005; Sambracos, 2003), completed in 1893, and only 8 m deep will in about 16 years fall dry, becoming like the "Diolkos" ship slipway of 700 BC! The "Diolkos" was a stony road on which boats were dragged overland by men and draft animals (Werner, 1997); 21st century commercial RO/RO shippers might prefer a 21 m-wide portage ship railway or hovercraft guideway.
Many physical and biological changes will occur upon completion of a Gibraltar Strait Dam. For example, freshwater artesian springs that are (nowadays) undersea springs may become valuable in the future as sources of freshwater for new coastal settlements and farmlands (Ghannam, 1998; Michael, 2005; Rapaglia, 2005) serving primarily Mediterranean Sea Basin peoples. France spent four million 2003 Euros to harness a submarine freshwater spring gushing 100 liters/sec from the seabed near the Franco-Italian border at a depth of 36 m. It seems such springs were beneficial to humans shortly after the Earth's most recent ice age (Faure, 2002), when global sea level was much lower than today. In his Geographica, the Roman geographer Strabo (63 BC–23 AD) in his time reported the residents of Latakia, Syria harvested freshwater in goatskin sacks from a submarine spring's plume 4 km offshore. It is estimated that 5–6% of all freshwater reaching the world-ocean does so as submarine groundwater discharge; the submarine groundwater discharge in the Mediterranean Basin may be very large, affecting the tidal stage and seasonal chemical loading of near-coast seawater. Fernando Gomez has examined some of the seawater chemistry consequences of a Gibraltar Strait closure (Gomez, 2003). The Mediterranean Sea will warm and become saltier causing many extant species of its rather sparse life component to decline in mass or become extinct (Sardia, 2004; Tudela, 2004). In other words, Atlantropa's builders will cause an anthropogenic marine salinization. Any future global climatic changes will affect the storm tracks and storm characteristics that govern the hydrological cycle in the Mediterranean Sea Basin (Mariotti and Struglia, 2002) and may well affect also the North Atlantic Ocean's thermohaline circulation were either Johnson's mounded rubble underwater ridge or Sorgel's Gibraltar Strait Dam built.
Once a Gibraltar Strait Dam is emplaced, the Mediterranean Sea will have the character of an "aquarium" (Brunner, 2005) and, as such, can be monitored closely by a wireless ecological sensor network (Porter, 2005). Aquatic biological invasion of the Mediterranean Sea is a fact of life (Dumont, 2004; Shefer, 2004) and preliminary open-ocean fertilization experiments have occurred (Thingstad, 2005). Some species of seaweed may be introduced to remedy any urban coastal eutrophication problems arising (Fei, 2004). Isostatic rebound-related earthquake activity and reduced hydrostatic pressure caused by isostatic rebound of the Earth-crust might cause destabilization of gas hydrates in the seabed. Some extant coastal infrastructures will, undoubtedly, benefit greatly from a 50-meter artificial lowering of the Mediterranean Sea. For example, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina complex (dedicated 23-25 April 2002) has a design life of ~200 years and its base sits only 2 meters above current sea level about 40 m from the shoreline; the groundwater under the facility's geotechnical platform is affected by the sea tide. A 50-meter reduction of the Mediterranean Sea will moderate this physically deleterious ongoing effect, lengthening its useful life! For Atlantropans, not only will macro-engineering be experimental – colossal barrier building, harbor and city construction – but the macro-management of the various region-wide megaprojects will also be profoundly experimental!
Collapse of the Gibraltar Strait Dam, from any cause, would foster catastrophic dam-break wave propagation with tsunami-like characteristics (Soloviev, 1990) and terribly deleterious effects upon the new and old shorelines of the Mediterranean Sea. A dam-break disaster of such imagined magnitude has never before been physically or computationally modeled, but a start has been made in another context of oceanographic investigation (Speich, 1996). The leading wave might achieve a velocity of 150 km/hr! Sensitive DamFlow computer modeling applied to the particular problem at the Strait of Gibraltar ought to be helpful simulations for investigators trying to assess the nature and totality of the hydraulic macro-problem (Pares, 2005). Such an infrastructure breakdown would be a gigantic emergency and restoration macro-management headache; in terms of public relations, it could be a long-term Earth system science and macro-engineering blemish! Since the induced reduction of the Mediterranean Sea will raise the world-ocean's level by around 33 cm (Cathcart, 1995), the quick return of that long-time aerial water vapor export to the Mediterranean Sea as a single inrushing liquid flood would adversely affect the navigational level of all world seaports!
The world-ocean is the surface temperature boundary for the Earth-atmosphere over 71% of the planet's surface; a segment of the world-ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, is considered the "Mare Nostrum" of Earth system science (Krijgsman, 2002; Krafft, 2006). Starting in late 2004, the most detailed ever heat map of the Mediterranean Sea – the world's largest inland sea – was being updated daily as part of the European Space Agency's "Medispiration Project". A modern historiographer, Allan Megill, instructs the answer historians seek to the question of "what was actually the case?" in the recorded past is "recounting". Historical explanation, he wisely asserted, is dependent on a professional "recounting", which he likened to a process "like the winning of [2300 km2] land from�[The Netherlands'] Zuider Zee" (Megill, 1989). A reduced Mediterranean Sea would be a maritime archaeological treasury. An in-depth recounting of the Atlantropa Project, promoted from 1929 until 1953 by Herman Sorgel, deserves a thorough reassessment in the event that impending global change challenges Space Age humans everywhere – including even those possibly visiting and/or contemplating Mars' future terraformation (Hempsell, 2005) – to macro-engineer our Earth.
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