Sunday, June 29, 2008

Floodplain danger warning in South Africa (South Africa): The flooding that hit the South Coast earlier this month should serve as a wake-up call for home owners who have been complacently living on or near floodplains. Independent environment specialist Simon Bundy has pointed out that riverine systems are dynamic and changing forces. With climate change factored in, homes which might once have been secure, could in the future fall foul of nature.

This is also the view of environment specialist Alan Smith, who said inappropriate development on the South Coast had been one of the reasons so much damage had been done to property during last week's floods. "People have moved into areas that they should not have, such as on the banks of rivers," said Smith. "Unfortunately many of them are really poor people."

Smith believes that apart from the inordinately high seas which had in recent years caused much devastation on the coastline, things had been comparatively quiet, lulling people into a sense of security. As a result many had been unprepared for last week's flooding rivers. Smith said while that downpour had not been as devastating as the floods of 1959, it had been unusual.

It was impossible to say if it had been the result of global warming, he said. Given climate change, Bundy said the velocity and volume of water being dispersed by rivers could in future change radically. Pointing to the Mbanga River near Port Shepstone, Bundy said a lot of infrastructure had been built in its floodplain. "They are already repairing the sewage line and starting to put a new line in place," he said….

Satellite image of Capetown, perspective view, by NASA. The captioning says, "This Landsat and SRTM perspective view uses a 2-times vertical exaggeration to enhance topographic expression. The back edges of the data sets form a false horizon and a false sky was added. Colors of the scene were enhanced by image processing but are the natural color band combination from the Landsat satellite." Wikimedia Commons

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