Northern European Enclosure Dam map

Dam the North Sea

To protect Northwestern Europe from rising sea levels, two scientists — one Dutch, one German — have proposed enclosing the North Sea.

In The Northern European Enclosure Dam for if Climate Change Mitigation Fails, Sjoerd Groeskamp and Joakim Kjellsson call for one dam closing the almost 500 kilometers (~300 miles) between Scotland and Norway, and another closing off the English Channel.

“See this as a warning,” Groeskamp, who works for the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research,” told The New York Times.

What we’re saying is: Here’s a plan, a plan we don’t want. But if we end up needing it, then it’s technically and financially feasible.

He and Kjellsson write that a Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED) would be “one of the largest civil-engineering challenges ever faced.”

It’s not a new idea.

North Sea drainage plan
Map from Modern Mechanics

Modern Mechanics reported in September 1930 that “eminent British scientists” has proposed to reclaim some 100,000 square miles (around 260,000 square kilometers) of land from the North Sea.

The reclaimed land will be walled in with enormous dykes, similar to the Netherland dykes, to protect it from the sea, and the various rivers flowing into the North Sea will have their courses diverted to different outlets by means of canals.

The accompanying map had a railroad connecting London to Berlin and a bridge across the English Channel.

Antwerp and London would have retained their access to the sea, but not the rival port of Rotterdam.

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