DHAKA (AFP) - New data shows that Bangladesh's landmass is increasing,
contradicting forecasts that the South Asian nation will be under the
waves by the end of the century, experts say.
Scientists from the Dhaka-based Center for Environment and Geographic
Information Services (CEGIS) have studied 32 years of satellite images
and say Bangladesh's landmass has increased by 20 square kilometres
(eight square miles) annually.
Maminul Haque Sarker, head of the department at the government-owned
centre that looks at boundary changes, told AFP sediment which travelled
down the big Himalayan rivers -- the Ganges and the Brahmaputra -- had
caused the landmass to increase.
The rivers, which meet in the centre of Bangladesh, carry more than a
billion tonnes of sediment every year and most of it comes to rest on
the southern coastline of the country in the Bay of Bengal where new
territory is forming, he said in an interview on Tuesday.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has
predicted that impoverished Bangladesh, criss-crossed by a network of
more than 200 rivers, will lose 17 percent of its land by 2050 because
of rising sea levels due to global warming.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning panel says 20 million Bangladeshis will
become environmental refugees by 2050 and the country will lose some 30
percent of its food production.
Director of the US-based NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies,
professor James Hansen, paints an even grimmer picture, predicting the
entire country could be under water by the end of the century.
But Sarker said that while rising sea levels and river erosion were both
claiming land in Bangladesh, many climate experts had failed to take
into account new land being formed from the river sediment.
"Satellite images dating back to 1973 and old maps earlier than that
show some 1,000 square kilometres of land have risen from the sea,"
"A rise in sea level will offset this and slow the gains made by new
territories, but there will still be an increase in land. We think that
in the next 50 years we may get another 1,000 square kilometres of
Mahfuzur Rahman, head of Bangladesh Water Development Board's Coastal
Study and Survey Department, has also been analysing the buildup of land
on the coast.
He told AFP findings by the IPCC and other climate change scientists
were too general and did not explore the benefits of land accretion.
"For almost a decade we have heard experts saying Bangladesh will be
under water, but so far our data has shown nothing like this," he said.
"Natural accretion has been going on here for hundreds of years along
the estuaries and all our models show it will go on for decades or
centuries into the future."
Dams built along the country's southern coast in the 1950s and 1960s had
helped reclaim a lot of land and he believed with the use of new
technology, Bangladesh could speed up the accretion process, he said.
"The land Bangladesh has lost so far has been caused by river erosion,
which has always happened in this country. Natural accretion due to
sedimentation and dams have more than compensated this loss," Rahman
Bangladesh, a country of 140 million people, has built a series of dykes
to prevent flooding.
"If we build more dams using superior technology, we may be able to
reclaim 4,000 to 5,000 square kilometres in the near future," Rahman
It's called a "paradox", where the reality fails to meet the theory
and the scientists insist that the theory should prevail over the
Yep, right at sea level. ROFLMAO