Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Floods forecast for Bangladesh


Better flood forecasting could save lives in Bangladesh.
© AP/Abu Taher Khokon

With a weather monitoring network a new model could predict coastal floods in Bangladesh.

A new model should help forecast the massive floods to which the northern coast of Bangladesh is prone1. In principle, the model can predict the heights and arrival times of the huge waves that cyclones cause, and so could improve the planning of sea defences.

The effectiveness of the model will depend on the availability of accurate, timely and detailed meteorological data, cautions Bangladeshi scientist Junaid Amin As-Salek. He has spent six years in Japan with Takashi Yasuda of Gifu University developing the mathematical picture of the interactions between Bangladesh’s ocean, atmosphere and shoreline.

Gathering input data remains a formidable challenge. The technology for a weather-monitoring network exists, says As-Salek, who is now at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Michigan, USA. But a shortage of funding hampers its use in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s coast is in constant danger of devastating floods. Tropical hurricanes in the Indian Ocean move towards the coast, pushing a wall of water ahead of them. This creates a great wave called a storm surge, which can reach 12 meters high. In 1970, a five-metre wave flooded a million acres of rice fields, killing at least 200,000 people. More than 100,000 further lives were lost this way in 1991.

The country is densely populated and lacks the resources to erect defences or carry out evacuations. Also, the land is so low that even flood waves a couple of metres high can have terrible consequences.

Making waves

A coastal wave can have different effects at different times and places, making flooding hard to predict. As-Salek and Yasuda focused on the estuary of the Meghna River in the north of the Bay of Bengal - the region generally hit hardest by storm surges.

Their model provides a framework for predicting specific floods. It takes into account how coastal winds, the shape of the estuary, and the ebb and flow of the local tides affect a storm surge. A surge that coincides with a high tide, for example, is much more destructive. The estuary can also have a funnelling effect that accentuates flooding, As-Salek says.

The model could also help in planning permanent sea defences. At present, defences in Bangladesh are "very scattered and inadequate", says As-Salek who feels they were not based on scientific predictions.

Coastal engineering relies on estimates of the ’design cyclone’: the hypothetical hurricane that generates the flood wave with the largest water volume at a particular point. As-Salek hopes his model will help make these calculations, putting sea defences on a rational footing. Whether sufficient resources will be available to implement such planning is another matter.


  1. As-Salek, J. A. & Yasuda, T. Tide-surge interaction in the Meghna estuary: most severe conditions. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 31, 3059 - 3072, (2001).

PHILIP BALL | Nature News Service
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected
20.03.2018 | GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

nachricht Wandering greenhouse gas
16.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

21.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>