Assessing the risk of cyclone-induced storm surge and sea level rise in Mozambique

UNU-WIDER / 2013

WIDER Working Paper 2013/36

Authors: James E. Neumann, Kerry A. Emanuel, Sai Ravela, Lindsay C. Ludwig and Caroleen Verly

Abstract

This article considers the impact of sea level rise and storm surge on the port cities of Maputo and Beira in Mozambique. By combining a range of sea level rise scenarios for 2050 with the potential maximum storm surge level for the current 100-year storm, we analyze permanently inundated lands and temporary flood zones. In Beira, our analysis finds that a medium Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenario consistent with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections through 2050 could increase the frequency of the current 100-year storm, which is associated with a storm surge of roughly 1.9 meters, to once every 40 years. The results in Maputo show similar and even more dramatic changes in the return period of the 100-year storm (associated with more 1.1 meter surges), with a reduction to a 1-in-20-year event under the same scenario. In 2050, approximately 0.4 percent of the Beira study area’s GDP is vulnerable to permanent inundation due to sea level rise, and 0.8 percent is vulnerable to periodic storm surge damage. The figures for Maputo are a bit higher -0.7 percent of the Maputo study area’s GDP is vulnerable to permanent inundation due to sea level rise, and 1.1 percent is vulnerable to periodic storm surge damage.

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