Rising Sea Levels in Indonesia Threaten 23 Million People by 2050

Indonesia, climate change, environment,

Jakarta is prone to flooding

Around 23 million people living in several of Indonesia’s coastal cities, including the capital Jakarta, risk having their homes inundated in coastal flooding by 2050 as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change, a new report has warned.

Those forecast to find themselves in flood zones in the archipelago are among 300 million citizens facing the risk globally in the next three decades ─ three times as many people as previously predicted, according to the study.

A report by United States-based nonprofit research group Climate Central estimates that Indonesia, together with five other Asian countries, will be heavily impacted by the sea level rise, given the number of people living in each country’s low-lying coastal areas.

“Mainland China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand are home to the most people on land projected to be below average annual coastal flood levels by 2050,” the report says.

“Together, those six nations account for roughly 75 percent of the 300 million people on land facing the same vulnerability at midcentury.”

While 23 million people would be affected in Indonesia, the country most affected in ASEAN would be Vietnam with 31 million people followed by Thailand with 12 million people.

In Indonesia, oceans could rise between 0.6 and 2.1 meters throughout the next decades, provoking chronic flooding in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan, among others. Affected cities would include Palembang in South Sumatra, Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan as well as many coastal areas along the northern coast of Java, including parts of Semarang in Central Java and Surabaya in East Java.

Jakarta, home to a population of 10 million, is expected to be particularly vulnerable to coastal flooding, threatening the already sinking city, which has many other urban problems on its hands.  The study shows that seawater is projected to inundate most of North Jakarta and West Jakarta, even reaching the National Monument in Central Jakarta, which is surrounded by dozens of government offices.

Environmental concerns and overcrowding have been behind President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s decision to move the capital city from Jakarta to East Kalimantan between North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kertanegara regencies.

The new figures are based on CoastalDEM, a new digital elevation model developed by Climate Central, which used machine learning to correct systematic errors in the elevation dataset used in previous coastal flood risk assessments, NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM).

The new dataset used in the study is “more accurate” than the SRTM, which according to the research group, has underestimated the figure of future inundation as a result of rising sea levels in the coming decades.

(Source: The Jakarta Post)