Researchers investigate riverbank erosion and resilience in coastal Bangladesh | 3/29/2018 | Staff
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Coastal residents in Bangladesh are losing their homes and farmland at an astonishing rate due to riverbank erosion, which affects roughly 1 million people and displaces 50,000 to 200,000 every year.

A team of researchers that includes two members of the Department of Geography in Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment is working to better understand how riverbank erosion affects the citizens of Bangladesh and to develop early-warning measures that may help mitigate the effects of the changing shoreline.

Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna - River - Basin - Himalayas - Bangladesh

The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basin, which runs from the Himalayas through Bangladesh, is the third largest river basin in the world. While only 7 percent of the river basin's area is located in Bangladesh, over 90 percent of the basin's discharge flows through the country.

"The average erosion rate is 100 meters per year in many locations near the coast, so it's a huge shock, both economically and socially, especially for people who are already challenged economically," said Tom Crawford, professor and chair of the Department of Geography. "We want to understand how coastal erosion is linked to precipitation patterns and how humans are continuing to secure their livelihoods in the face of erosion."

Crawford - Associate - Munshi - Khaledur - Rahman

Crawford and postdoctoral associate Munshi Khaledur Rahman, also from Virginia Tech's Department of Geography, are working with researchers from East Carolina University, Kansas State University, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University in Bangladesh to conduct a three-year study on coastal erosion, human vulnerability, and adaptation strategies to promote resilience in the face of erosion disturbances.

The team, whose work is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Geography and Spatial Sciences Program, hopes to develop a better understanding of how shorelines are changing in their study area over time and how those changes affect the people who live nearby.

"Ultimately, we'd like to be able to provide new scientific...
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