Kerala, a coastal state in southern India, is renowned for its lush green landscapes, tranquil backwaters and picturesque beaches.
However, there has been increasing concern about sea level rise and flooding threats within the state in recent years.
With severe floods occurring in 2018 and 2019 that claimed many lives and caused extensive property damage and infrastructure destruction, climate change has become increasingly visible here too.
Scientists have warned that Kerala’s coastline is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels, and some parts may become underwater in the coming years.
Low-lying areas like Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, which have seen rapid urbanization and unchecked construction activities, are especially at risk.
Kerala government has taken measures to combat climate change, such as promoting renewable energy, implementing sustainable tourism practices and launching flood relief programs.
Nonetheless, more must be done to adequately address this existential threat to its people and economy.
Specific Threats To Low-Lying Areas And Coastal Cities In Kerala
Kerala’s low-lying areas and coastal cities are particularly vulnerable to the threat of flooding and sea-level rise. Here are some specific risks and threats these areas face:
Storm Surges In Kerala
Coastline Cities in Kerala, such as Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, are particularly vulnerable to storm surges caused by extreme weather events.
Storm surges occur when strong winds push ocean water onto land, leading to flooding and significant destruction to buildings and infrastructure.
Erosion Of Beaches And Coastline
Rising sea levels can erode beaches and coastlines, potentially impacting livelihoods for local communities that depend on tourism or fishing.
Furthermore, erosion weakens coastal infrastructure like seawalls, making them more vulnerable to storm damage.
As sea levels rise, saltwater can seep into freshwater sources like rivers and groundwater, leading to water scarcity and contamination.
This has a major effect on agriculture, drinking water quality, and human health.
Flooding In Low-Lying Areas
Low-lying areas, such as river basins and floodplains, are particularly vulnerable to flooding during heavy rainfall events.
Floods can cause extensive property damage, destruction of crops and infrastructure, as well as displacement of people.
Impact On Biodiversity
Kerala’s unique biodiversity, including mangrove forests, is at risk due to sea-level rise. Mangroves are vulnerable to saltwater intrusion and coastal erosion from sea level rise, and their loss could dramatically impact the ecosystem and livelihoods of local communities.
What Will Happen To Kerala In 2050?
Climate change continues to have an increasingly detrimental impact on Kerala, raising concerns about its future. One of the state’s primary concerns is flooding and sea-level rise. Experts anticipate that the sea level will continue to rise over the coming years and could surpass 1.5 meters by 2050.
Sea level rise could have devastating effects on Kerala. Cities along the coastline like Ernakulam, already vulnerable to flooding and erosion, could be at risk of being submerged.
The loss of homes, businesses, and infrastructure would be devastating for residents of Kerala – with significant economic and social repercussions.
Furthermore, saltwater intrusion into freshwater sources could exacerbate water scarcity, impacting agriculture, industry and drinking water supplies.
Will Kerala Be Submerged In Water?
The news article states that according to projections based on the indicators provided by the IPCC, the sea level may rise by 0.11m by 2030, and by 2100, it will have risen by 0.71m, and by 2150, it would be up by 1.24m.
This rise in sea level could significantly impact the Kerala coast, leading to the submergence of low-lying areas.
Scientists predict that if the sea level rises by 1 meter, the state of Kerala will lose about 374 square km of coastal land, which includes Kuttanad in Alappuzha.
According to the projection, 150sq km of land in Thrissur, 116 sq km in Alappuzha, 88 sq km in Kottayam, and 20 sq km in Ernakulam district will be submerged by 2130.
Therefore, based on the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report and projections, there is a possibility that parts of Kerala may be submerged in water in the future due to the rising sea level.
However, the extent of the submergence and its timeline may vary depending on factors such as the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, human interventions, and the effectiveness of adaptation and mitigation measures.
What Is The Altitude Of Kerala Above Sea Level?
Kerala lies in the southwest corner of Western Ghats and features undulating hills and steep scarp slopes.
The altitude of Kerala varies greatly, ranging from below the mean sea level to 2,694 meters above the mean sea level.
Kerala’s landform offers a diverse mix of altitudes from low-lying areas to high mountain ranges
However, according to NASA projections, coastal regions and low-lying regions in Kerala could soon be submerged under water due to climate change and rise in sea level.
Can Human Activity Be Blamed For Floods In Kerala?
Kerala has been facing severe natural calamities like floods and landslides for several years. While these disasters are mostly caused by excessive rainfall and other natural factors, human activity has also played a role.
Unchecked mining and soil piping activities in the state have depleted natural resources resulting in worsening conditions.
Soil piping refers to underground water that causes soil erosion leading to tunnel-like formations that could trigger landslides.
To prevent future incidents, Kerala needs to adopt environmentally sustainable practices.
These include harvesting rainwater, encouraging organic farming and banning hazardous chemicals and fertilizers.
What Was The Year When Kerala Experienced Its Worst Flooding?
A study by the Central Water Commission revealed that in 2018, Kerala witnessed its worst flooding.
The study reported that the average cumulative rainfall of three days from 15 to 17 August 2018 was around 414 mm.
This amount of rainfall was almost equal to that of the rainfall of Devikulam which occurred during 16–18 July 1924.
The unprecedented rainfall during that period caused severe floods and landslides in various parts of Kerala, resulting in numerous casualties and massive destruction of property.
The floods and landslides caused the displacement of millions of people and affected the lives of several more.
The disaster emphasized the urgent need for proper management and preparedness for such extreme weather events in the future.