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Bangkok under threat to sink, warn researchers

Bangkok, Thailand: Thailand’s capital of Bangkok is under threat of being underwater within a century, researchers predicted, warning that current flood prevention measures are not ready to prevent such disaster, Thai News Agency reported.

The prediction comes from research study calculations indicating that land in Bangkok on average subsides about one centimetre annually. The study is a cooperative project on geo-dynamics called ‘Geodetic Earth Observation Technologies for Thailand: Environmental Change Detection and Investigation’ — GEO2TECDI — between Thai-based and European Union institutes.

The cooperation project aims to increase skills and Thai-EU joint research capabilities of Thai researchers in applying and exploiting three space geodetic techniques for the detection, observation and modelling of the change and movement of the tectonic plates beneath Thailand, Bangkok’s land subsidence, and sea level changes in the Gulf of Thailand.

The techniques for the detection are namely Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and Satellite Altimetry (SALT).

According to Chulalongkorn University’s Survey Engineering Department, data from satellites 15 years ago, indicated that the earth’s tectonic plates have lifted up slowly. “But the big earthquakes in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island in 2004 which caused the Andaman Sea tsunami quickly resulted in a shrinkage of the tectonics of around one centimetre annually, while the subsidence of soil layers for the past decade in Bangkok and its vicinity has continued to subside– data which matched that of the Royal Thai Survey Department,” the study said.

Despite such statistics, researchers have not yet determined conclusively when the Thai capital will enter its critical stage of moving into a waterworld.

The second phase of research is yet to be conducted to create a model for an accurate forecast, according to Thai News Agency. According to current estimates, the land beneath Bangkok can sink to as low as sea level in a hundred years, when comparing land subsidence ratio to Bangkok’s ground, which now is only on average one metre above sea level. It is predicted that land on the banks of the Chao Phraya River will be the first to be affected.

That data demonstrated that the sea level in the Gulf has continually risen around 4 millimetres per year. The accelerating factors for the increasing sea level include global warming causing glaciers to melt and the enlargement of the oceans.