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World 300 million delta dwellers vulnerable to cyclones, flooding

02:11  30 september  2020
02:11  30 september  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Coastal areas currently home to 300 million people will be vulnerable by 2050 to flooding made worse by climate change, no matter how aggressively humanity curbs Destructive storm surges fuelled by increasingly powerful cyclones and rising seas will hit Asia hardest, according to the study.

The number of people vulnerable to coastal flooding from climate change has gone up by more than three and a half times. The study done by US think tank

map: Nearly 80 percent of the 339 million people living in river deltas are in only 10 of them © John SAEKI Nearly 80 percent of the 339 million people living in river deltas are in only 10 of them

More than 300 million people in low-lying river deltas, mostly in poorer nations, are exposed to flooding from tropical storms made more deadly and destructive by global warming, researchers said Tuesday.

One in ten live on floodplains hit by once-a-century cyclones that can generate 350-kilometre (200-mile) per hour winds and up to a metre (40 inches) of rain per day, they reported in Nature Communications.

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'An increase in flooding frequency with climate change will challenge the very existence and sustainability of these coastal communities across the globe Coastal flooding is caused by severe storms, and it's made worse when conditions of large waves, storm surge and high tides come together.

Bangladesh evacuated hundreds of thousands of people to higher ground ahead of Tropical Cyclone Mahasen. Bangladesh's low elevation puts large Land in the Ganges Delta is fertilized by annual flooding . Bangladesh suffers 53% of the world's cyclone fatalities, even though only 1% of cyclones

a flock of seagulls next to a body of water: Partially submerged village in the mangrove-covered delta region the Sunderbans, some 100 km south of Kolkata, in May 2009 after a cyclone tore into the northern coast of the Bay of Bengal © DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY Partially submerged village in the mangrove-covered delta region the Sunderbans, some 100 km south of Kolkata, in May 2009 after a cyclone tore into the northern coast of the Bay of Bengal

Warmer oceans and more moisture in the atmosphere mean these powerful storms may become more frequent, including in regions rarely touched by their terrible power in the past.

Densely populated deltas where rivers meet the sea are especially vulnerable to flooding caused by such warm-weather monsters, which crisscross the world's major oceans in summer and fall.

As the reality of climate change sinks in, policymakers must figure out not only how to slow rising temperatures but also prepare for inevitable climate impacts already in the pipeline.

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Inland flooding will also be a major threat. Low-lying river deltas of northeastern India are especially vulnerable to storm-surge flooding . Fani is the first tropical cyclone of the year in the northern Indian Ocean, and the most powerful to occur there so early since the Bangladesh cyclone of 1991.

Starting April 20, 2010, over 4 million barrels of oil flowed over a period of 87 days into the Gulf of Mexico. Why is Dharamshala more vulnerable to landslides? In Maharashtra, 136 people died from floods and heavy rain, 51 died from lightning and 44 died from the heatwave between June and

But up to now, the population of the world's cyclone-exposed river deltas was not precisely known, making it difficult to plan ahead.

"The big question we are trying to answer is how may people live on river deltas and what is their vulnerability to coast flooding," lead author Douglas Edmonds, a geomorphologist at Indiana University, told AFP.

To find out, Edmonds and colleagues combed through 2017 data for 2174 deltas across the globe.

They calculated that 339 million people lived within their boundaries, all but 10 million of them in developing and least developed countries.

- Not enough sediment -

More than three-quarters reside in only 10 river basins, including the Ganges-Brahmaputra, with 105 million people, and the Nile delta with 45 million.

All but a few delta dwellers are potentially in the pathway of tropical storms, with exceptions such as Saint Petersburg, Russia, built at the mouth of the Neva River.

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Mozambique’s death toll from flooding in the wake of Cyclone Idai more than doubled as relief workers struggled to deal with the devastation wrought by the storm. “The immediate priority is search and rescue for people stranded and isolated by flood waters, with priority being given to trauma victims.”

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Deltas, the researchers discovered, occupy just over 0.5 percent of Earth's land mass, but are home to nearly five percent of the planet's human population.

"We were surprised to learn that most of the deltas with a large number of people living in the 100-year tropical cyclone floodplain are sediment-starved," Edmond said.

That, he added, is very bad news in the face of rising seas and ever bigger storm surges.

"Delta landforms exist at the coastline because sentiment is deposited near shore," he explained. "When sea level rises, the delta can respond by either shrinking in size or by filling the space with sediment."

But much of the silt and sediment that once enriched agricultural land and built up natural defences against ocean tides and surges has been blocked by dams upstream in virtually all major river systems.

"That means natural mitigation through sediment deposition is not possible," Edmond said, noting that the problem is often compounded by subsidence -- cities sinking under their own weight and due to depleted water tables.

A third of greater Jakarta, home to 30 million people, could be submerged by 2050, according to experts.

The only option left in that case to combat coastal flooding is "hard engineering measures," Edmond added.

mh/tgb

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