NASA’s Forecasting Tool Finds Mangalore, Mumbai Vulnerable to Flooding Due to Melting of Glaciers and Global Warming

Shruti Venkatesh
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NASA’s Forecasting Tool Finds Mangalore, Mumbai Vulnerable to Flooding Due to Melting of Glaciers and Global Warming

New forecasting tool helps scientists identify cities that are more vulnerable than others

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has created a new tool that can help in predicting which cities in the world are at a risk of getting flooded due to the melting of ice in a warming climate. The tool looks at Earth’s spin and gravitational effects to predict how water will be redistributed globally, and reportedly, India cities Mangalore and Mumbai are at a high risk of getting flooded. 

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Called gradient fingerprint mapping (GFM), this forecasting tool provides, for each city, a picture of which glaciers, ice sheets and ice caps are of specific importance. This will, in turn, help the scientists in understanding which ice sheets they should be most worried about. The research has been detailed in the journal Science Advances and states that over the next 100 years, glacial melt could push up Mangalore sea levels by 15.98cm compared to 15.26cm for Mumbai and 10.65cm for New York. The Indian city of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh is also at a risk of getting flooded.

Explaining the importance of the new tool, Erik Ivins, senior scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US said, “As cities and countries attempt to build plans to mitigate flooding, they have to be thinking about 100 years in the future and they want to assess risk in the same way that insurance companies do.” 

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An ice sheet is a continental glacier that covers a large area. Close to 75% of the world’s freshwater is stored in glaciers and ice sheets. Their melting, because of global warming, is a major contributor to rising seas. The study states that the rise will not be uniform across the world because of gravity, the “push-pull influence of ice, wobble of the planet and other local factors. This makes some cities more vulnerable than others. For instance, the study finds that for Antartica and Greenland, changes in the predictions of a flood at major port cities depend on the location of the drainage system. The forecasting tool showed that in London, local sea-level change is hugely affected by changes on the western part of Greenland ice sheet. On the other hand, such changes are sensitive to changes in northeastern portions of an ice sheet in New York.