Year of selection 2016
Institution Earth Observatory of Singapore Nanyang Technological
Will coastal flooding be more frequent and more devastating in the future? With the changing climate, coincident with growing coastal populations, the threat of tsunamis and storms on low-lying coastal regions is increasing. Recognizing that the South China Sea is particularly vulnerable to these risks, Doctor Linlin Li aims to improve our understanding of how climate change will affect the flooding hazard in this region, with a particular focus on megacities. To achieve this objective, Dr. Li’s objective is to develop a complex statistical model of how these phenomenons are likely to evolve in the future.
“We’ve seen too many examples of the tragic consequences that tsunamis and typhoons can have in Asia”, Dr. Linlin Li points out. « Such flooding events are responsible for enormous damage and losses to coastal regions globally, both in terms of affected people and economic damages. » To increase our resilience to these natural disasters and to avoid being overwhelmed by their probable aggravation in the future, Dr. Li’s objective is to provide comprehensive coastal flooding assessments for the entire South China Sea region, taking into account not just one, but multiple flooding hazards including tsunamis of different origins, extreme tides and storms surges. This approach will be based on sea level assessments under projected multi-decade to multi-century scenarios.
Measuring the probability of an aggravation of coastal flooding events in the future
To assess the future flooding hazards in the South China Sea, Dr. Linlin Li and her team will adopt a probabilistic approach of the Monte-Carlo type – named after the city in Monaco famous for its casino and games of chance. This type of method can be used to model phenomenons with significant uncertainty, as is the case with calculations of risk. In much the same way as games of chance, risk assessments involves uncertainties which, if computed, can be translated into quantified probabilities. By integrating large numbers of tsunami and storm surge simulations, Dr. Linlin Li intends to use this method to assess the present-day flooding hazards in the region. The focus will be on megacities such as Macau, Kaohsiung, Zhuhai, Singapore, Hong Kong or Manila. The team will then investigate the effect of climate-induced changes such as sea level rise or changing winds patterns on these flooding hazards. To develop comprehensive flooding risk assessments for each of the megacities studied, the last step will be to incorporate data on population exposure and vulnerability. With her comprehensive scope analysis of the South China Sea’s flooding risks, Dr Li aims to determine which areas will be the most at risk and why, in order to provide a solid working base for the improvement of resilience in the region.
“With this project, my team and I aim to provide invaluable synthetic information to people living in high-risk areas, as well as to professionals in the field of emergency management, insurance, urban planning, and engineering”, explains Dr. Linlin Li. Not only will her study benefit resilience in the South China Sea region, her approach and method also has the potential to become an example to follow for the other Pacific countries vulnerable to such natural disasters.