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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Research project: Slow Onset Hazard Interactions with Enhanced Drought and Flood Extremes in an At-Risk Mega-Delta

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The overall aim of this project to understand how agricultural resilience to hydrometeorological extremes can be enhanced through improved predictive capacity and aligned policy and governance, using the Vietnamese Mekong delta (VMD) as a representative exemplar delta.

Funding source: Natural Environment Research Council

Awarded amount: £334,615.21

Start date: 01/01/2019

End date: 30/06/2021

In this project we are developing and applying new modelling tools to explore how crop production and livelihoods in an exemplar mega-delta (the Mekong) are affected by the interplay between (i) episodes of drought and flooding and (ii) ongoing environmental stress linked to upstream catchment management and climate change. Like many of the world’s deltas, the Mekong is challenged by rising relative sea-level. Relative sea-level rise is a slow onset hazard that progressively exacerbates fluvial and coastal flood risk while simultaneously enhancing saline intrusion. However, this progressive change is punctuated by the occurrence of extreme weather events such as droughts or extreme rainfall. The co-occurrence of slow onset hazards with extreme events creates a 'perfect storm' that makes agriculture ever more challenging, but we don’t understand how slow onset changes interact with extreme events. The key question we are exploring is the extent to which, in systems facing progressive reductions in resilience as a result of ongoing change, the additional burdens caused by occasional but damaging climatic extremes may cause a 'tipping point' to be crossed which makes it difficult for agricultural production to recover after severe episodes of drought or flooding.

Related research groups

Landscape Dynamics and Ecology (LDE)
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