Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mangrove Forests Save Lives In Storms, Study Of 1999 Super Cyclone Finds

Date:
April 21, 2009
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
A new study of storm-related deaths from a super cyclone that hit the eastern coast of India in 1999 finds that villages shielded from the storm surge by mangrove forests experienced significantly fewer deaths than villages that were less protected.

Mangroves growing in tidal flats in Florida provide wildlife habitat, erosion control and protection against storm surges.
Credit: US Geological Service

 A new study of storm-related deaths from a super cyclone that hit the eastern coast of India in 1999 finds that villages shielded from the storm surge by mangrove forests experienced significantly fewer deaths than villages that were less protected.

Related Articles


The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Delhi and Duke University, analyzed deaths in 409 villages in the poor, mostly rural Kendrapada District of the Indian state of Orissa, just north of the cyclone's landfall.

"Our analysis shows a clear inverse relationship between the number of deaths per village and the width of the mangroves located between those villages and the coast," said Jeffrey R. Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian Professor of Forest Economics and Management at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

"Taking other environmental and socioeconomic factors into account, villages with wider mangroves suffered significantly fewer deaths than ones with narrower or no mangroves," Vincent said. "We believe this is the first robust evidence that mangroves can protect coastal villages against certain types of natural disasters."

Vincent conducted the analysis with Saudamini Das of the University of Delhi's Swami Shradanand College. Their findings appear in a paper in this week's online early edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mangroves are dense forests of trees and shrubs that grow in brackish, low-lying coastal swamps in the tropics and subtropics. In 1944, mangroves covered nearly 31,000 hectares of land in Kendrapada District and the average village had 5.1 kilometers of mangroves between it and the coast. Since then, nearly half the area has been cleared, mostly for rice production. Today, the average width of mangroves between the villages and the coast has shrunk to 1.2 kilometers.

The 1999 storm, which made landfall on Oct. 29, killed nearly 10,000 people, more than 70 percent of whom drowned in its surge.

Using statistical models, Das and Vincent predicted there would have been 1.72 additional deaths per village within 10 kilometers of the coast if the mangrove width had been reduced to zero.

"This is a measure of the life-saving impact of the mangroves that remained in 1999," Vincent said. "It implies that they cut the death toll by about two-thirds."

Although mangroves evidently saved fewer lives than an early warning issued by the Indian government, the retention of the remaining mangroves in Orissa is economically justified, Vincent believes, even without considering the many other environmental benefits they provide, such as acting as nurseries for economically and environmentally vital fisheries, or sites for ecotourism. Previously published estimates of Indians' willingness to pay to reduce the risk of accidental deaths are higher than Das and Vincent's estimate of the cost of saving lives in Orissa by retaining mangroves.

The study does not assess mangroves' ability to reduce deaths from tsunamis, Vincent cautions, because of key differences in their wave dynamics. Storm surges have shorter wave lengths than tsunamis, and relatively more of their energy is found near the surface of the water. Mangroves' ability to protect villages against tsunamis has been a point of controversy in the scientific and policy communities since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Das and Vincent designed their study to overcome criticism leveled at studies examining the effects of mangroves on that disaster.

The study was supported by the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE), with research facilities provided by the Institute of Economic Growth in Delhi, India.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Mangrove Forests Save Lives In Storms, Study Of 1999 Super Cyclone Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414172924.htm>.
Duke University. (2009, April 21). Mangrove Forests Save Lives In Storms, Study Of 1999 Super Cyclone Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414172924.htm
Duke University. "Mangrove Forests Save Lives In Storms, Study Of 1999 Super Cyclone Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414172924.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins