Cost of Flooding Doubles Worldwide with Loss of Coral Reef
An article published in Nature Communications shows that because “coral reefs serve as natural, low-crested, submerged breakwaters, which provide flood reduction benefits through wave breaking and wave energy attenuation,” coral reefs save billions of dollars each year in flood damage. Losing coral reefs results in worse flooding further inland for larger numbers of people, and it increases in the costs of flood damage worldwide.
The article uses offshore and nearshore hydrodynamics data, as well as topographic, bathymetric and sea-level data for a number of scenarios involving 25-year and 100-year flooding events, among other metrics, to model possible flooding situations with and without coral reefs.
It concludes that, for 100-year storm events, the cost of flood damage for the U.S. increases by 91% to a total of $272 billion without coral reefs and that Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico and Cuba can save $400 million by managing reef health.