Flooding in Thailand

By Alyson Pinkelman and Cecile Murdock

Bangkok was built on the floodplains of the Chao Phraya River and is expected to be one of the urban areas hit hardest by climate change (Hay, 2017). According to the World Bank, “nearly 40% of Bangkok may be inundated each year as soon as 2030 due to more extreme rainfall” (TED, 2019). In 2011, sixty-five of Thailand’s 76 provinces were declared flood disaster zones,and over 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 sq mi) of farmland was damaged (DHI worldwide,n.d.). This was the world’s fourth costliest disaster as of 2011 and cost 815 people their lives (Floodlist News, 2019). On January 4th, 2019, a tropical storm hit the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat over 200,000 people were affected by the storm with 3 people dead and one person missing (DHI worldwide, n.d.). 35,000 people evacuated their homes due to this storm and many are still residing in shelters (Hay, 2017). Tourist areas were the first to return to normal, specifically the beach resorts in the Gulf of Thailand and along the Andaman sea, while Red Cross volunteers helped locals reassemble their lives (TED, 2019).

To combat inevitable flooding, Thailand is beginning an initiative to build innovative architecture through the scope of mitigating flooding impact due to climate change such as the Hulalongkorn Centenary Park (DHI worldwide, n.d). The Hulalongkorn Centenary Park is Thailand’s first park in many years, which was built to commemorate the centenary year of Bangkok’s oldest university (TED, 2019). The eleven acre park is designed to hold excess water underground to prevent flooding. It was designed by Kotchakorn and is inclined at a three-degree angle so that rain and floodwater flow to its lowest point, a retention pond (Floodlist News, 2019). The retention pond can hold up to one million gallons of water which can be used later in the dry season. The rainwater also flows through the park’s lawn and wetlands where native vegetation filters the water, while its walkways are made of porous concrete to absorb excess water (TED, 2019). More details on this project can be found here:

The Decision Support System (or the DSS) was established by the Hydro and Agro informatics institute (HAII), which is part of the Thai Ministry of Science and Technology (Floodlist News, 2019). The system works by running a hindcast model to reflect the movement, distribution, and properties of the water. It can perform forecast simulations, run meteorological forecasts twice a day, and import rainfall levels hourly, which makes it effective in predicting flooding patterns (TED, 2019). This system is utilized by the Thailand government to forecast floods at 28 locations up to seven days in advance (DHI worldwide, n.d.). The DSS provides flood management along the 160,000 km Chao Phraya River Basin (Hay, 2017). Early warnings and alarm bells issued in flood prone areas give residents more time to plan for and initiate emergency action plans (DHI worldwide, n.d.). By implementing the DSS as well as building parks and other innovative architecture, the Thailand government can prevent millions of dollars in damage and potentially save thousands of lives.

References
DHI Worldwide. (n.d.). What Thailand did to protect lives from floods. Retrieved from
https://www.dhigroup.com/global/references/apac/overview/protecting-thailand-from-floods

Floodlist News. (2019, January 7). Thailand – Tropical Storm Pabuk Hits Southern Provinces.Retrieved from http://floodlist.com/asia/thailand-tropical-storm-pabuk-january-2019

Hay, W. (2017, December 5). Thailand floods: Villagers frustrated over government inaction.Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/asia/2017/12/thailand-floods-villagers-frustrated-government-inaction-171205122013925.html

TED. (2019, February 11). How to transform sinking cities into landscapes that fight floods Kotchakorn Voraakhom. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQmaMOxwaQI

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