Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mangroves save lives in storms, study of 1999 super cyclone finds

16.04.2009
A new study of storm-related deaths from a super cyclone that hit the eastern coast of India in 1999 finds that villages shielded from the storm surge by mangrove forests experienced significantly fewer deaths than villages that were less protected.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Delhi and Duke University, analyzed deaths in 409 villages in the poor, mostly rural Kendrapada District of the Indian state of Orissa, just north of the cyclone's landfall.

"Our analysis shows a clear inverse relationship between the number of deaths per village and the width of the mangroves located between those villages and the coast," said Jeffrey R. Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian Professor of Forest Economics and Management at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

"Taking other environmental and socioeconomic factors into account, villages with wider mangroves suffered significantly fewer deaths than ones with narrower or no mangroves," Vincent said. "We believe this is the first robust evidence that mangroves can protect coastal villages against certain types of natural disasters."

Vincent conducted the analysis with Saudamini Das of the University of Delhi's Swami Shradanand College. Their findings appear in a paper in this week's online early edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mangroves are dense forests of trees and shrubs that grow in brackish, low-lying coastal swamps in the tropics and subtropics. In 1944, mangroves covered nearly 31,000 hectares of land in Kendrapada District and the average village had 5.1 kilometers of mangroves between it and the coast. Since then, nearly half the area has been cleared, mostly for rice production. Today, the average width of mangroves between the villages and the coast has shrunk to 1.2 kilometers.

The 1999 storm, which made landfall on Oct. 29, killed nearly 10,000 people, more than 70 percent of whom drowned in its surge.

Using statistical models, Das and Vincent predicted there would have been 1.72 additional deaths per village within 10 kilometers of the coast if the mangrove width had been reduced to zero.

"This is a measure of the life-saving impact of the mangroves that remained in 1999," Vincent said. "It implies that they cut the death toll by about two-thirds."

Although mangroves evidently saved fewer lives than an early warning issued by the Indian government, the retention of the remaining mangroves in Orissa is economically justified, Vincent believes, even without considering the many other environmental benefits they provide, such as acting as nurseries for economically and environmentally vital fisheries, or sites for ecotourism. Previously published estimates of Indians' willingness to pay to reduce the risk of accidental deaths are higher than Das and Vincent's estimate of the cost of saving lives in Orissa by retaining mangroves.

The study does not assess mangroves' ability to reduce deaths from tsunamis, Vincent cautions, because of key differences in their wave dynamics. Storm surges have shorter wave lengths than tsunamis, and relatively more of their energy is found near the surface of the water. Mangroves' ability to protect villages against tsunamis has been a point of controversy in the scientific and policy communities since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Das and Vincent designed their study to overcome criticism leveled at studies examining the effects of mangroves on that disaster.

The study was supported by the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE), with research facilities provided by the Institute of Economic Growth in Delhi, India.

Tim Lucas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

nachricht Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

Im Focus: Scientists improve forecast of increasing hazard on Ecuadorian volcano

Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).

The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New thruster design increases efficiency for future spaceflight

16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Transporting spin: A graphene and boron nitride heterostructure creates large spin signals

16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

A new method for the 3-D printing of living tissues

16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>