The many causes of flooding in the Maldives

A new study from the University of Southampton has discovered that the causes of coastal flooding in the Maldives are extremely complicated.

This study, led by Professor Robert Nicholls and Dr Sally Brown, is part of an ongoing research project, which looks into coastal flooding and climate change adaptation.

There have been a minimum of 30 flood events on record in the Maldives over the past 50 years. Researchers looked back at historic flood events and examined wave and sea level data. They found that many factors contribute to the frequent flooding occurring in the Indian Ocean island chain, this area has an average land elevation of one metre and sea levels are rising at the rate of around 4mm per year.

The main cause of flooding was the raising of water levels caused by breaking waves. The prolonging of swell wave conditions, generated by windstorms in the Southern ocean also contributed to the flooding. High astronomical tides, were another cause to the floods. 

Flood risk in the Maldives has been reduced due to the use of flood defences such as breakwaters and sea wall. The authors of this study have warned other inhabited islands in the Maldives to use these flood defences to reduce the risk of further flooding.