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Big coastal cities sinking in to the ground

Posted on Saturday, 3 May, 2014 | Comment icon 9 comments

Tokyo is one city that has suffered from subsidence issues. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Cors
Subsiding land could prove to be a bigger threat to some large cities than rising sea levels.
When we think to the future and to the impact of global warming on population centers around the world the first thing that springs to mind is the effect that rising sea levels will have on low-lying cities located on the world's coastlines.

Yet eating away at the foundations of these cities is a hidden threat that could prove disastrous long before the melting of the ice caps has a chance to take its toll. In some parts of the world the coast is subsiding at a rate ten times greater than the rate at which the sea level is rising.

"Land subsidence and sea level rise are both happening, and they are both contributing to the same problem - larger and longer floods, and bigger inundation depth of floods," said Dr Gilles Erkens.

"The most rigorous solution and the best one is to stop pumping groundwater for drinking water, but then of course you need a new source of drinking water for these cities."

Source: BBC News | Comments (9)

Tags: Subsidence, Global Warming

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Child of Bast on 29 April, 2014, 16:35
Comment icon #2 Posted by Leonardo on 3 May, 2014, 13:20
This should be the headline... People find out their actions have consequences shock!
Comment icon #3 Posted by Frank Merton on 3 May, 2014, 13:42
New Orleans and Venice seem to me to be hopeless cases; they need to get the art out of there. Ho Chi Minh City stopped allowing people digging their own wells several years ago; I thought it was probably a health measure but maybe this has something to do with it.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Sundew on 3 May, 2014, 14:10
My understanding of the problem of New Orleans is that the delta created by the Mississippi River has been shrinking, that the thousands of acres of marsh grass (probably Spartina and others) have been receding from the Gulf. I am not sure if this is due to changes in salinity by diverting some of the river, or pollution such as phosphate runoff from agriculture or even damage from the BP oil spill, but these acres of grass used to help protect NO from the storms and hurricanes that plague the Gulf of Mexico. As they die off the Gulf moves ever closer to the city which is then exposed to direc... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by little_dreamer on 3 May, 2014, 16:50
New Orleans and Venice were the first ones I thought of too. The Netherlands is next. I don't know which other cities have a low elevation near water.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Azznerak the Black on 4 May, 2014, 0:32
You mean to tell me that large cities built next to water are sinking? Poppycock.
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer on 4 May, 2014, 22:11
New Orleans has been below sea level for a long time. The levees were built to keep the water out. As nice as the "Big O" is I don't know if I'd want to live in that type of situation.
Comment icon #8 Posted by MordorOrc on 5 May, 2014, 5:32
New York and Tokyo spring to mind. For the most part, subsidence really only affects cities that have been built on reclaimed land that is waterlogged. The weight of the buildings is usually enough to create subsidence, although seismic activity will exacerbate the problem. Although not a major city by any measure, Christchurch is suffering from a lot of drainage problems due to the earthquakes and the subsidence they created. Properties that would usually flood within a one-in-100 year storm now flood every time heavy rain occurs.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Frank Merton on 5 May, 2014, 6:00
I think the Dutch are dealing with it and will do okay, but it will cost a lot of money. That will probably in the end be the case with the vast majority of cities in wealthier countries. This problem can also be mitigated by stopping the water withdrawal. Sea Level rising on the other hand will hit places like the Mekong and Ganges and Nile deltas, all heavily populated and without the resources rich countries have, and will need help. I think Ho Chi Minh City and Decca and Alexandria themselves will be okay but there are huge rural populations in those areas at risk. The situation is ... [More]

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