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“If a serious cyclone were to strike Mumbai, the results could be catastrophic, says Sobel, because the city is very low-lying, heavily developed right to the shore, and densely populated. “That’s exactly the recipe for an awful disaster: high vulnerability and low awareness of the risk. Emergency planning is crucial.”

Sobel proposed the “Storm surge risk to ” project early last year and secured support from the Global Innovation Fund for a small project.

Mumbai’s physical characteristics would expose the city and its residents to great harm should a cyclone make landfall. The city is largely built on artificial land and would be severely flooded by a storm surge of a few meters’ height, such as even a moderately severe cyclone could produce. Kyle Mandli, a Columbia University assistant professor and a member of the research team, has performed preliminary simulations showing that the depth and shape of the ocean bottom off the coast of Mumbai appear conducive to such a surge. Recent development of the city has removed much of the natural capital, such as coastal mangroves and floodplains, which would historically have offered protection…”

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