Bangladesh Tries Working With Nature to Stave Off Sea Level Rise

photo: Dan Nevill via flickr

Bangladesh has got it rough. Even without climate change set to give the nation a one-two punch (rising sea levels and increased storms coming in off the Bay of Bengal, and increasing run-off from the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers coming down from the Himalaya), the yearly effect of monsoonal flooding is pretty bad. Well, the New York Times is reporting on how some Bangladeshis are using increasing silt runoff to shore up the land around them:Though the Times points out that so far experiments to create new land, or reinforce existing islands with silt and sediment runoff have been limited, and not universally successful, there is some hope that Bangladesh may be able to combat (at least partially) some of climate change's worst impacts, cheaply and simply.

The silt-trapping experiment has yielded tentative but visible gains here in Beel Bhaina, a low-lying 600-acre soup bowl of land on the banks of the Hari River, a tributary of the Ganges, about 55 miles upstream from the Bay of Bengal. Even at this distance from the coast, it is among the country's most susceptible to sea rise. The river swells each day with the tides. Creeping salinity in the water table is a harbinger of future danger.

It Still Floods, Effects Just Not as Bad
The article goes on to describe how the silt-trapping experiment began: One day about 10 years ago, when the entire are was flooded to head height, local residents cut a whole in the mud embankment that formed the wall trapping water inside. The water began draining, and (long story short) four years later Beel Bhaina had filled in with sediment by as much as three feet. That change in elevation made all the difference; the water flows more freely now and is less of a threat to farming and people's lives.

20% of Bangladesh Underwater by 2100
OK, so waiting multiple years for pieces of land to naturally fill up with sediment may not be a quick-time solution to rising sea levels, but a coordinated effort seems like it could certainly be of some use. Which considering that, if sea level rise forecasts made at the Copenhagen Climate Congress bear out, and we see a meter increase by the end of this century, 20% of Bangladesh will be submerged, every little effort could help.

via: New York Times
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