Cities gone underwater by 2050? Rising sea levels study an ‘overestimation,’ authorities say

Danial Dzulkifly
Using CoastalDEM, Cent-GPS tweeted last week its prediction that several places in Malaysia, including Muar, will be flooded by 2050. ― Picture by KE Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — The National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (Nahrim) has today rebuked media reports quoting think tank Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) on rising sea levels and how it affects the nation’s shifting shorelines.

In a media statement, Nahrim through the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry (KATS) said the research quoted titled “Elevation Data Triple Estimates of Global Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Flooding” had “overestimated” the effects of rising sea levels in the country.

“Please do note that the analysis method used in the study is only suitable for general assessment at the global level and does not reflect coastal flooding conditions in Malaysia,” it said.

“The study used a combination of sea-level rise data and occurrence of floods on higher elevation which will happen simultaneously which led to the possibility for coastal areas to be eroded and dissipated compared to the actual area involved

“And the studies are (also) based on static topographic models without taking into account dynamic factors such as existing coastal protection and flood mitigation structures that are available and others that will be carried out by KATS via JPS,’’ it added, referring to the Drainage and Irrigation Department under the ministry.

The original research was done by Scott A. Kulp and Benjamin H. Strauss by independent research organisation Climate Central and published by the Nature journal.

Using CoastalDEM, the same digital elevation model used in the research, Cent-GPS tweeted in a thread last week its prediction that several cities will be flooded by 2050 including Muar, Pekan, Bagan Datoh, Teluk Intan, and Kuala Selangor.

The bipartisan think tank also predicted that the northern town of Alor Setar will be turned into an island, while areas along Parit Buntar and Taiping will be underwater.

 

The thread was later picked up by several media including Malay daily Sinar Harian, prompting Nahrim’s response today.

 

In the statement, the ministry added that is constantly aware and vigilant on the effects of rising sea level and through JPS, has adopted a proactive measure by building protective coastal structures since 1986.

JPS also has created an Erosian Hazard Map, among other disaster management plans to combat the effects of rising sea levels.

As such, KATS would like to advise the general public not to be alarmed or affected by the research,” it said.

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