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. photo: a pair of homes in Pittsburgh
    Equity

    The House Flippers of Pittsburgh Try a New Tactic

    As the city’s real estate market heats up, neighborhood groups say that cash investors use building code violations to encourage homeowners to sell.  

  2. Life

    The Cities Americans Want to Flee, and Where They Want to Go

    An Apartment List report reveals the cities apartment-hunters are targeting for their next move—and shows that tales of a California exodus may be overstated.

  3. Life

    Can Toyota Turn Its Utopian Ideal Into a 'Real City'?

    The automaker-turned-mobility-company announced last week it wants to build a living, breathing urban laboratory from the ground up in Japan.

  4. Design

    Long Before Levittown, Brooklyn Boasted Mass-Produced Housing

    The small community of Gerritsen Beach was a pioneering cookie-cutter suburb in the 1920s.

  5. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

×