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San Francisco Bay Area Cities Built On Landfill Are Sinking Faster, Study Finds

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A new study says parts of the Bay Area are sinking faster than expected.

Sea levels are rising around the Bay Area due to global climate change and at the same time some areas along the coast are sinking, according to a new study out of UC Berkeley.

It found that more of the Bay Area could be underwater by the end of the century than previously expected.

The report published in Science Advances found that the most vulnerable spots are San Francisco International Airport, Treasure Island and Foster City.

UC Berkeley Professor of Geophysics Roland Burgmann said, "These areas are more susceptible to sinking because they're built on landfill that is compacting, water is being squeezed out of the rock, and that is and that continues for many, many decades."

Burgmann used data collected over six years to create projections.

At SFO for example, water will cover about half of the airport's runways and taxiways by the year 2100. Parts of Foster City, including the areas near the San Mateo Bridge, are also threatened by massive flooding by then.

UC Berkeley research found that Treasure Island is sinking at a rate of a half-inch per year.

By contrast, sea level rise is climbing at one to two millimeters per year.

Burgmann says his estimates don't take into account extreme weather events, so the effects could be even worse.

Jackie Kim owns Olives restaurant in Foster City, where she lived for 22 years.

"I knew it was on landfill and I knew eventually, everybody warned me that it might, may sink but it's been here for so long and I'm sure there's always remedies for how they will fix it," Kim said.

According to the study, another major factor to sinking land is groundwater pumping.

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