News Stories

Not Waving But Drowning

Due to global warming, low-lying Bangladesh may not have much of a future, and if YOU live in a major coastal city (as many of us do), there could be a tsunami in YOUR future. Agricultural researchers think that cities should protect themselves from tsunamis and hurricanes by planting shelterbelts.

In the Independent, Ann McFerran reports that the island of Aralia, which is part of the nation of Bangladesh, is one of the first drowning casualties of climate change. The rising ocean surrounding it has reduced it to about one-fifth of its former size.

The US isn't immune to this kind of problem. Following the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the December 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, many international planning agencies have searched for ways to prevent such tragedies in the future. Iowa researchers Gene Takle, Mike Chen and Xiaoqing Wu developed a set of guidelines for rebuilding coastal forests. In Thailand, where hundreds of bodies had washed up on the beach after the 2004 tsunami, Takle says, "Much loss of life from this tsunami was attributed to destruction of coastal forests. Villages in India and Southeast Asia that preserved their coastal mangroves suffered far less damage."

The team suggests the following: planting trees as close to the sea as possible; using short salt-tolerant and sparse shelters on the seaward edge; using tall species of high wind resistance on the landward side; and leaving gaps between rows and irregularly within the rows to extend the protected zone, but allowing for onshore flow of the cooling sea-breeze in nonhazardous conditions.

We soon may see these type of forest greenbelts rising up on the edges of some of our major US cities.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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