Coastal flooding in Bengal Bay

by Luca Catalano Gonzaga

Bengal Bay is the area of the world that is most affected by climate change. The cyclones, floods and monsoons that annually hit Bengal Bay cause the destruction of harvests and devastation of entire villages. Climate change and extreme environmental events often lead to migration flows. In fact, every year, several movements of population from rural to urban areas cause new environmental problems, not least in the country’s fast growing urban slums. The decision to migrate is often spurred by the will to avoid any further damages caused by natural disasters which are cyclical, such as floods. In addition to normal patterns of flooding within Bangladesh, increasing sedimentation in rivers due to reduced sediment deposition on flood plains protected by embankments has become a problem. Many believe that climate change could further exacerbate this issue through increased monsoon rainfalls and retarded discharge of rivers due to the rise of sea levels. Climate change is expected to aggravate coastal erosion primarily through rising sea-levels, but also through changes to river flows and other hydrological dynamics. Climate change can affect the movement of the population in different ways: the intensification of natural disasters, floods, cyclones, river bed erosion and the increase in sea levels make the coastal areas not fit to be inhabited. The constant battle to exploit the scarse natural resources can create new tensions or even conflicts and therefore, as a consequence, migration of the population to other areas. In the 21st century Bangladesh will most likely lose about 17.5 per cent of its landmass, with a one meter rise in sea level due to global warming. (text by Luca Catalano Gonzaga).

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