This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Major flooding in Bangkok

NASA MODIS image from Terra satellite, October 25, 2011
Bangkok, Thailand, is experiencing extreme flooding. To our friends there, stay dry and stay safe! We're thinking of you!

The flooding has been building for three months. The flood waters are expected to rise to as much as 5', and the highest tide of the year is to come this weekend, backing up the rivers.  The average elevation of bangkok is less than 6'. The Thai prime minister has declared a five-day public holiday in affected areas (21 provinces including Bangkok) in an attempt to get people to seek safety away from the city.  The Chao Phraya River which winds through the capital is likely to top its embankments this weekend.  The domestic airport, Don Muang airport, is closed because floodwaters flowed onto the runways and affected lighting. Domestic flights are being rerouted to Suvarnabhumi Airport.  The floods have killed 373 people and affect 9.5 million. This is the worst flooding in a half century and may continue for a month as the water drains out through the cities 1,682 canals to the rivers.

NASA MODIS image, November 13, 2008
In some places, the water approaching the city is 10' deep. It may have inundated 10,000 factories north of the city, disrupting supply chains for Apple and Toyota. Thailand makes about 1/4 of the world's hard disk drives and is a production hub for Japanese carmakers and electronics firms. The dikes holding back the floods have not been tested by floods of this size and so it's uncertain whether they can withstand the pressure of 10' deep water. An advisor from the Netherlands has said "Any dike system that comes under extreme conditions will show failures."

It is estimated that the flooding will cut about 1 percentage point from economic growth, and the budget for rehabilitation may exceed $3.2 billion.

The summer monsoon (August to October) is the culprit here.  Here's a site that gives a good overview of the monsoon meteorology in Thailand.


Qurtan said...

I did not know that Bangkok was that flat. Look at this http://www.altitude.nu/index.jsp?id=86 .It is not strange there are flooding there.

Susan W. Kieffer said...

Thanks, Qurtan, that is a really helpful map!