Bangkok sinking quickly, say scientists

Bangkok sinking quickly, say scientists

Unless radical action is taken soon, experts say we’ll be underwater in less than 50 years
Bangkok sinking
A Thai commuter rides his motorcycle through a water-logged street in Bangkok following a downpour last year.

A report published by the United Nations’ IRIN magazine today says that flooding in Bangkok is likely to get so severe by the middle of this century that parts of the Thai capital may have to be abandoned.

“Subsidence and poor urban planning have resulted in Bangkok gradually sinking between 2cm and 5cm a year,” the report quotes researchers in Thailand.

It’s well known by city residents that Bangkok is sinking, with experts first documenting the problem in the early 1980s. But now scientists say there are added factors that are fast-tracking the city’s immersion.

“For decades we have known that the city was sinking because of sediment compression, but recent research has shown that the crust of the earth itself is also depressing here, caused by tectonic events that are totally outside our control. It is a combination of factors,” Anond Snidvongs, the Southeast Asia regional research director for multi-national non-governmental agency START, says in the report.
“Much of the problem was caused by water for industry being extracted from underground aquifers faster than it could be replaced, causing the soil to compress,” IRIN explained. “Another issue is that many of Bangkok’s canals, which once drew comparisons with those of Venice, have been concreted over and turned into roads, while houses and factories have been built on the natural floodplains surrounding the capital.” 

In addition to the obvious humanitarian issues, Bangkok’s sinking woes are a scary thought for those that are investing big bucks in the city’s real estate sector. Among the more radical proposals being suggested to fix the situation is the construction of a massive 100 kilometer dike right across the Gulf of Thailand from Hua Hin to Pattaya.