Submerged Shanghai

Nine major delta cities' vulnerability to coastal flooding

Flood vulnerability index for coastal cities. Source: Natual Hazards

A new research paper* into the vulnerability to coastal flooding of the nine major world cites on river deltas makes grim reading for Shanghai however you look at it. No city of the nine is worse situated. Shanghai has the longest waterfront, along both river and sea. It has the highest concentration of residents living in flood-prone areas. It has the weakest institutional flood-repsonse capacity for the size of risk it faces. Taken together, as the chart above shows (a 1 is bad, zero good) those factors make Shanghai the most vulnerable major city in the world to coastal flooding, a title, the report says, it will still hold at the end of this century unless action is taken.

That action is urgent. As we have noted before Shanghai is sinking. Meanwhile, sea levels continue to rise.  If there is a silver lining to the report, it is that Shanghai is wealthy enough to recover relatively quickly from such a disaster.

*A flood vulnerability index for coastal cities and its use in assessing climate change impacts. By S.F. Balica and N.G. Wright of the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and Delft University of Technology, and F. van deer Meulen of the School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds. Natural Hazards. 2012.

Footnote: The nine delta cities studied were Buenos Aires (Argentina), Calcutta (India), Casablanca (Morocco), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Manila (Philippines), Marseille (France), Osaka (Japan), Shanghai (China) and Rotterdam (the Netherlands).

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