Reuters

According to new research, coastal forests greatly reduced the impact of the Japanese tsunami.

When a tsunami overtook northeastern Japan back in March 2011, water rushed inland more than 1 kilometer in some places. But not all areas suffered equally. According to new research out of Chiba University, areas with coastal forests actually experienced less flooding than those with levees and seawalls.

As The Mainichi reports, Professor Yoshihisa Maruyama compared satellite imagery of coastal areas in Japan against official flood maps created after the tsunami. Places without coastal forests – even if they had levees in place – saw flooding from 700 to 1,000 meters inland. Areas with forests along and near the coastline only flooded about 400 to 500 meters in.

Maruyama studied a 13-kilometer section of coastline in the city of Asahi, in Chiba prefecture, and found that even building devastation was much less severe in areas with coastal forests.

These findings could be important for coastal areas all over the world. While the threat of tsunamis may be higher in the Asia Pacific, weather- or climate change-related flooding is a ticking time bomb in cities across the world. But what if diminishing the impacts of these devastating events could be as simple as planting a bunch of trees?

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    In Montreal, French Expats Find Language Doesn't Translate to Community

    More Parisians are moving to Quebec seeking lower rents, jobs, and an easy cultural fit. But as housing prices rise, so does resentment among the city’s locals.

  2. POV

    One of the Greatest Threats to Our Lifespans Is Loneliness

    What would society be like if health insurers and public bodies invested as much in encouraging social encounters as exercise and good diet?

  3. Maps

    Mapping Where Europe's Population Is Moving, Aging, and Finding Work

    Younger people are fleeing rural areas, migrating northward, and having fewer children. Here’s how that’s changing the region.

  4. Construction workers build affordable housing units.
    Equity

    Why Is 'Affordable' Housing So Expensive to Build?

    As costs keep rising, it’s becoming harder and harder for governments to subsidize projects like they’ve done in the past.

  5. People use leaning bars at a bus stop in Brooklyn in 2016.
    Design

    Cities Take Both Sides in the 'War on Sitting'

    Cities are removing benches in an effort to counter vagrancy and crime—at the same time that they’re adding them to make the public realm more age-friendly.