New delta risk research in Science

Posted on August 06, 2015 in News

My collegues and I have a new research paper being published in the August 7, 2015 edition of Science, titled Profiling risk and sustainability in coastal deltas of the world. We have incorporated relative sea-level rise (RSLR, the combination of oceanic sea-level rise and land subsidence) into a risk framework that account for varying exposure to hazardous events, as well as the vast differences in socio-economic vulnerabilty across the world's deltas. We've developed proxies for these risk components based on global remote sensing and numerical modeling, and estimated how risk is changing due to RSLR in 48 deltas. Several wealthy deltas (the Mississippi and Rhine in particular) are at far lower risk than otherwise would be expected due to their capacity for investing in risk-reducing techonologies. We estimate their additional risk exposure due to RSLR in future scenario where protective infrastructure is increasing expensive due to currently forecast economic trends.

More details, data, and delta maps may be found at:

There is a very nice companion perspective piece: Building land with a risking sea, by Stijn Temmerman and Matthew L. Kirwan. They provide great context on the problems with contemporary engineered structures commonly used to protect deltas, and suggest a number of more sustainable strategies.

Thank you to my co-authors for all the work they put into the research and writing: Charles Vörösmarty, Michael Grossberg, Irina Gladkova, Hannah Aizenman, James Syvitski, and Efi Foufoula-Geogriou.