As the U.S. looks back one year on the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy — the storm that pummeled the Northeast coast in October 2012, the ramifications of which are still felt for those whose homes and businesses were destroyed — concern for global climate change remains at hand. 2013 has had an unusually weak hurricane season for the Atlantic; no major storms have made landfall during the tropical season that is in sharp contrast to 2012’s which blacked out millions of homes and killed nearly 300 people. But even as the U.S. East Coast enjoys a peaceful waning into winter, coastal vulnerability is still a reality for many around the world.
A 2012 study of “sinking cities” indexed nine metropolises for their vulnerability to coastal flooding because of their deltaic locations, sedimentary make-up, and accounting for socio-economic and political factors that influence coastal maintenance. As climate change works its way around the globe, coastal regions are the most at risk as tidal levels rise and populations increase. The research notes that 21% of the world’s population resides on coastal territories, so when natural disaster strikes, some are more prepared than others.
The nine cities analyzed fall in this order from least vulnerable to most vulnerable:
Buenos Aires, Argentina
A combination of hydro-geological, socio-economic, and politico-administrative factors are at play in each of these coastal cities that contribute to their vulnerability and resilience to natural disasters. While hurricanes are not necessarily a concern for all — typhoons and monsoons are equally as destructive with flooding — their regional protection is a concern as global weather patterns change with human interference.
Exposure and sustainability will continue to be concerns for these coastal regions as climate change — wrought by human-driven atmospheric alteration — maintains its course, full speed ahead. Even as the Atlantic-facing U.S. breathes a sigh of relief this year, western Europe and the U.K. is slammed by hurricane-force winds that have resulted in 13 deaths thus far in various countries. Even the cities that aren’t sinking have to have a plan when Mother Nature comes knocking at their doors.