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Journal Articles Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences Year : 2021

Timescales of emergence of chronic flooding in the major economic center of Guadeloupe


Sea-level rise due to anthropogenic climate change is projected not only to exacerbate extreme events such as cyclones and storms but also to cause more frequent chronic flooding occurring at high tides under calm weather conditions. Chronic flooding occasionally takes place today in the low-lying areas of the Petit Cul-de-sac marin (Guadeloupe, West Indies, French Antilles). This area includes critical industrial and harbor and major economic infrastructures for the islands. As sea level rises, concerns are growing regarding the possibility of repeated chronic flooding events, which would alter the operations at these critical coastal infrastructures without appropriate adaptation. Here, we use information on past and future sea levels, vertical ground motion, and tides to assess times of emergence of chronic flooding in the Petit Cul-de-sac marin. For RCP8.5 (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5; i.e., continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions), the number of flood days is projected to increase rapidly after the emergence of the process so that coastal sites will be flooded 180 d a year within 2 decades of the onset of chronic flooding. For coastal locations with the lowest altitude, we show that the reconstructed number of floods is consistent with observations known from a previous survey. Vertical ground motions are a key source of uncertainty in our projections. Yet, our satellite interferometric synthetic-aperture radar results show that the local variability in this subsidence is smaller than the uncertainties in the technique, which we estimate to be between 1 (standard deviation of measurements) and 5 mm/yr (upper theoretical bound). Despite these uncertainties, our results imply that adaptation pathways considering a rapid increase in recurrent chronic flooding are required for the critical port and industrial and commercial center of Guadeloupe. Similar processes are expected to take place in many low-elevation coastal zones worldwide, including on other tropical islands. The method used in this study can be applied to other locations, provided tide gauge records and local knowledge of vertical ground motions are available. We argue that identifying times of emergence of chronic flooding events is urgently needed in most low-lying coastal areas, because adaptation requires decades to be implemented, whereas chronic flooding hazards can worsen drastically within years of the first event being observed.


Earth Sciences
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Dates and versions

hal-03742079 , version 1 (02-08-2022)



Gonéri Le Cozannet, Déborah Idier, Marcello de Michele, Yoann Legendre, Manuel Moisan, et al.. Timescales of emergence of chronic flooding in the major economic center of Guadeloupe. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 2021, 21 (2), ⟨10.5194/nhess-21-703-2021⟩. ⟨hal-03742079⟩


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