Sinking coastal cities
- 1Deltares Research Institute, Utrecht, the Netherlands
- 2Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
- 3WaterLand Experts, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Abstract. In many coastal and delta cities land subsidence now exceeds absolute sea level rise up to a factor of ten. A major cause for severe land subsidence is excessive groundwater extraction related to rapid urbanization and population growth. Without action, parts of Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and numerous other coastal cities will sink below sea level. Land subsidence increases flood vulnerability (frequency, inundation depth and duration of floods), with floods causing major economic damage and loss of lives. In addition, differential land movement causes significant economic losses in the form of structural damage and high maintenance costs for (infra)structure. The total damage worldwide is estimated at billions of dollars annually.
As subsidence is often spatially variable and can be caused by multiple processes, an assessment of subsidence in delta cities needs to answer questions such as: what are the main causes? What is the current subsidence rate and what are future scenarios (and interaction with other major environmental issues)? Where are the vulnerable areas? What are the impacts and risks? How can adverse impacts be mitigated or compensated for? Who is involved and responsible to act?
In this study a quick-assessment of subsidence is performed on the following mega-cities: Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Dhaka, New Orleans and Bangkok. Results of these case studies will be presented and compared, and a (generic) approach how to deal with subsidence in current and future subsidence-prone areas is provided.