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 Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>