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Shanghai 'vulnerability' contested

By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)

08:49, August 27, 2012

Authorities in Shanghai are contesting claims that the city is vulnerable to serious flooding, noting the city's work to build protective bulwarks in recent years and its capability of moving residents out of harm's way amid emergencies.

The city's ability to control floods came under scrutiny after a study appearing in the American journal Natural Hazards suggested that it is more vulnerable to serious flooding than eight other big coastal cities in the world.

Scientists from Britain and the Netherlands used a new measure called the Coastal City Flood Vulnerability Index to study Shanghai; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Kolkata, India; Casablanca, Morocco; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Manilla, Philippines; Marseille, France; Osaka, Japan; and Rotterdam, Netherlands. They collected social, economic, political and administrative data for those places, and considered their geological features.

The authors of the study found that Shanghai is the most exposed of those cities to coastal floods, a result partly of its long coastline.

"From a social perspective, the population close to the coastline is high, but the city does not have high resilience and the number of shelters is low compared to the population density," they wrote.

Various scholars in Shanghai deemed the authors' methods to be "too simple", saying that only a rigid mathematical model was employed in the study.

In Shanghai, storm surges are far less likely to cause flooding than they are in places such as Dhaka and Kolkata, said Dai Xingyi, an environmental science and engineering department professor at Fudan University.

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