Habitat loss 'doubles' flood impact

2013-07-15 09:02
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Environment
    This volume of "The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture" surveys the dynamic environmental forces... Now R886.00
    buy now
Paris - Removing mangroves, marshes, reefs, forests, dunes and other natural defences doubles the risk for life and property from coastal floods, a US climate study said on Sunday.

In the most detailed analysis of the risks facing Americans from rising seas, researchers led by Katie Arkema at Stanford University in California built a computer model of coasts in the continental US.

The huge programme factored in population statistics, residential property values, natural defences and flooding probability on a scale of 1km2.

"Today, 16% of the US coastline comprises 'high hazard' areas harbouring 1.3 million people, (including) 250 000 elderly (and) 30 000 families below the poverty line, and $300bn in residential property value," the study said.

This estimate is for current sea levels and for the current state of natural buffers against floods.

Strip away this protection in order to build on the land, and the number of people and the value of property at high risk roughly doubles.

Risk

"At present habitats protect 67% of the coastline," said the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

"Habitat loss would double the extent of coastline highly exposed... and the number of poor families, elderly people and total property highly exposed to hazards would also double."

In addition, rising seas caused by global warming will drive up the exposure, the study warned.

The team calculated what would happen under a common scenario for warming, known as A2, under which Earth's average surface temperature would rise by 2° - 5.4°C this century.

Around two million people, and property worth some 500 billion, would be in "high hazard" areas - a red line that stretches around most of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and parts of San Francisco Bay.

That exposure would almost double if habitat defences are removed, because more people inland are placed at risk.

Arkema said the new study can guide policymakers as to which areas are most exposed and which habitats are to be nurtured. Twenty-three of the United States' 25 most populated counties lie on the coast.

"The traditional approach to protecting towns and cities has been to 'harden' shorelines," the paper notes.

"Although engineered solutions are necessary and desirable in some contexts, they can be expensive to build and maintain, and construction may impair recreation, enhance erosion, degrade water quality and reduce the production of fisheries."

Experts have long pointed out the folly of building homes and businesses on exposed coast and stripping away natural shields against seas.

The message was given added weight after Superstorm Sandy swamped parts of New York and New Jersey in October 2012.

In June, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a $19bn plan to build 6m-high waterfront walls and dikes - and also reinforce or create dunes along vulnerable stretches of the city's coast.
Read more on:    environment  |  climate change
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

7 tips for the ultimate family camping trip

Taking the kids on a camping trip can be one of the most memorable holidays they will ever have!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

BASE jump off the world’s tallest building!
Stand up paddler rides over shark!
Bear Grylls’ top 10 things kids should do outdoors
You HAVE to see this MTB Tsunami Fip!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Pushing too hard and doing too much may have left you feeling drained and overwhelmed. You may need time out to recharge and reset...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.