Trouble in Paradise: Japan’s Kansai International Airport Faces Rising Seas

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Hey, jet-setters! Brace yourselves for a travel tale that’s wilder than turbulence – Kansai International Airport in Japan is in a bit of a pickle. This ocean-side airport, soaking in the waves of the Osaka Bay, is facing a double whammy with rising seas and the not-so-fun aftermath of Typhoon Jebi.

As spilled by Mirror on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, our beloved Kansai Airport, sitting pretty 38 km southwest of Osaka Station, is doing a slow dance with the sea, inching towards a watery fate. The rising tide, paired with Typhoon Jebi’s rampage, is throwing some major shade at this airport.

Now, Japan’s scratching its head, figuring out how to keep the airport party going. Why? Because this place is crucial for people coming and going. Plus, it’s got some swanky architecture and tech game.

Back in 2016, over 26 million folks took off and landed at Kansai Airport, earning it a spot among the top 30 busiest airports in Asia. Picture this – in 2001, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave it a high-five, calling it a millennium marvel of civil engineering.

This island-in-the-sea project cost a jaw-dropping USD 20 billion! Before this baby, Japan did some heavy lifting – literally. They turned the sea into a little island by moving earth around.

The whole shebang began in 1987, and after seven years of blood, sweat, and probably some tears, Kansai Airport rose from the waves. The airport was Japan’s answer to ease the craziness at Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport).

Why this remote spot? Blame it on the folks protesting the noise from the New Tokyo International Airport. By sticking it in the boonies, planes could come and go whenever without waking up the neighbors.

Here’s where it gets wild. To create this man-made island, engineers sucked out millions of liters of water from the squishy clay under the airport – 20 meters deep, people! Then, they built sea walls to keep the water out.

Building this island involved hauling stones on 80 ships, manned by 10,000 worker bees, putting in 10 million work hours. Once the stones were laid, they added 30 to 40 meters of soil from the seabed. This lifted the island up to 18 meters above sea level. Oh, and they threw in a two-mile-long bridge for good measure – cost a cool USD 1 billion!

Since its grand opening in 1994, Kansai Airport’s been doing a slow, sinking dance, dropping around 10 meters. Engineers expected it to sink a bit because of the terminal’s weight, but it’s sinking faster than they thought. In six years, it dipped by eight meters, hovering about four meters above sea level.

To dodge a soggy disaster, they chucked in at least USD 150 million to raise the sea walls. If things keep going this way, the airport’s birthday cake might get a bit soggy by 2056.

Adding fuel to the fire, Typhoon Jebi came crashing in, shutting down Kansai International for a whopping nine days. Storm surges flooded the place, plus heavy rain and winds took a toll. To top it off, a 3,000-meter bridge got a major bashing when a tanker ship did a little crash test. It took seven months to patch up that boo-boo.

So, as Kansai Airport juggles these challenges, it’s a rollercoaster of engineering marvels and a reality check on how climate change is messing with our cool stuff. Will Kansai Airport ride out the storm, or is it destined for a watery farewell? Stay tuned for the twists and turns of this island airport adventure!

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