Land subsidence — sinking of the ground’s surface — could negatively impact 19 per cent of the global population by 2040, according to new research funded by UNESCO.
As per an article by the American Association for the Advancement of Science published in EurekAlert!, subsidence is “a phenomenon often caused by human activities such as groundwater removal, and by natural causes as well.”
The study was conducted a large-scale literature review. According to the analysis, groundwater depletion in 34 countries has significantly contributed to land subsidence in the past century.
The study’s author Gerardo Herrera Garcia said factors such as global population and economic growth could further worsen the situation. These factors accelerated by global warming are likely to increase the occurrence of land subsidence and related damages.
The study said a majority of the 635 million inhabitants of subsistence-susceptible areas are located in Asia.
According to a report in The Guardian, the study found that countries including United, Mexico, China, and India are rapidly draining groundwater to meet global food demand. Continued subsidence in these countries are likely to impact the global population.
The report says Jakarta, which has sunk over 2.5 metres in the past decade, has resulted in relaxation of the country’s capital to the island of Borneo.
Currently, 25 per cent of the Netherlands is below sea level due to subsidence. Flat coastal regions, and urban and agricultural centres in dry climates face the most risk, as per the report.
The situation can be remedied with policy changes and implementing subsidence modeling in exposed areas, consistent monitoring of high-risk areas as well as through counter-measures built on damage evaluation.