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Atlantropa was a gigantic engineering and colonization project devised by the German architect Herman Sörgel in the 1920s and propagated by him until his death in 1952. Its central feature was a hydroelectric dam to be built across the Strait of Gibraltar, and the lowering of the surface of the Mediterranean Sea by as much as 200 metres.
Issue 10 Spring 2003
From 1927 until his death 25 years later, Sörgel worked on plans for a gigantic project that was initially named "Panropa" and later "Atlantropa." With the help of a 35 km-long dam in the Straits of Gibraltar, he wanted to cut off the water supply from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, letting the sea gradually dry up until its water level was reduced by some 200 meters. This was supposed to open up 600,000 square kilometers of new land and enable marvellous new capacities for power generation.
Gibraltar Strait Dam Macroprojects
Richard Brook Cathcart
1300 West Olive Avenue Suite M
Burbank, California 91506-2225 USA
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.
- About 33% of the world’s humans live within 100 km of a shoreline and 100 vertical meters of present-day sea level (Small and Nicholls, 2003).
- Worldwide, approximately 10 million persons today live below contemporary sea level