Implications of sea level rise scenarios on land use /land cover classes of the coastal zones of Cochin, India..
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Physical responses of the coastal zones in the vicinity of Cochin, India due to sea level rise are investigated based on analysis of inundation scenarios. Quantification of potential habitat loss was made by merging the Land use/Land cover (LU/LC) prepared from the satellite imagery with the digital elevation model. Scenarios were generated for two different rates of sea level rise and responses of changes occurred were made to ascertain the vulnerability and loss in extent. LU/LC classes overlaid on 1 m and 2 m elevation showed that it was mostly covered by vegetation areas followed by water and urban zones. For the sea level rise scenarios of 1 m and 2 m, the total inundation zones were estimated to be 169.11 km(2) and 598.83 km(2) respectively using Geographic Information System (GIS). The losses of urban areas were estimated at 43 km(2) and 187 km(2) for the 1 m and 2 m sea level rise respectively which is alarming information for the most densely populated state of India. Quantitative comparison of other LU/LC classes showed significant changes under each of the inundation scenarios. The results obtained conclusively point that sea level rise scenarios will bring profound effects on the land use and land cover classes as well as on coastal landforms in the study region. Coastal inundation would leave ocean front and inland properties vulnerable. Increase in these water levels would alter the coastal drainage gradients. Reduction in these gradients would increase flooding attributable to rainstorms which could promote salt water intrusion into coastal aquifers and force water tables to rise. Changes in the coastal landforms associated with inundation generate concern in the background that the coastal region may continue to remain vulnerable in the coming decades due to population growth and development pressures
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