Rich countries could be at risk of worse flooding - study

2015-08-07 13:26

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

Washington - It has long been thought that wealthy countries, bolstered with more money for infrastructure investment, face lower risks of flooding.

But new research on Thursday found that rich countries face major risks as climate change and human activity render coastal populations increasingly vulnerable to devastating river delta floods.

Though wealthy nations have greater resources to protect against flooding such as dams, climate change could increase the frequency and severity of floods and storms to a level that those nations may be challenged to keep pace with due to costs, according to a study in the US journal Science.

Man-made changes are also increasing the risk that coastal communities face, the study found.

As more land is used for agricultural production, for example, erosion occurs that reduces natural protections against flooding, the research found.

The researchers calculated the challenges that more than 340 million people could face in 48 major coastal delta river communities around the world.

The researchers flagged the Mississippi and the Rhine delta as potentially vulnerable, and said in some cases, the risk multiplied by four or eight times.

The study said infrastructure is key to preventing flooding and recommended that wealthy nations make wise investments now.

"Economic ability and decisions to deploy engineering solutions will be key factors in determining how sustainable deltas become in the long term," the study said.

In an editorial also published in Thursday's issue of Science, researchers Stijn Temmerman of the University of Antwerp and Matthew Kirwan, from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science said coastal communities need to devise strategies to mitigate flood risks.

One option is to restore sediment to delta plains though ecosystem-based engineering projects.

They devised a model for New Orleans and coastal Louisiana and said building or preventing the loss of more than 50 000 hectares of wetlands could reduce annual flooding damage by $5.3 to $18bn over 50 years.

Recent data estimated that by 2050, if the sea level continues to rise at its current rate, more frequent flooding could cost up to $1tn annually, causing serious damage to the 136 largest coastal cities in the world.

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X 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
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.