Maldives is one of the lowest countries in the world, and hence, is greatly threatened by sea level rise, coastal storm surges, and associated flooding. In recent years, many inhabited islands in the Maldives have experienced severe weather events such as strong winds, flooding, rough seas, and storm surges resulting in severe beach erosion hazards and coastal infrastructure damage.
This section provides a summary of key natural hazards and their associated socioeconomic impacts in a given country. And it allows quick evaluation of most vulnerable areas through the spatial comparison of natural hazard data with development data, thereby identifying exposed livelihoods and natural systems.
The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.
Climate change is now recognized to have a significant impact on disaster management efforts and pose a significant threat to the efforts to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable populations. The demands of disaster risk management are such that concise, clear, and reliable information is crucial. The information presented here offers insight into the frequency, impact and occurrence of natural hazards. Source (PDF)
Understanding natural hazard occurrence as well as historical climate conditions, in relation to development contexts, is critical to understanding a country’s historical vulnerability. This tool allows the visualization of different natural hazards or historical climate conditions with socio-economic and development datasets. Select the Development Context and either a Natural Hazard or Climate Condition and overlay horizontally by sliding the toggle left or right to gain a broader sense of historically vulnerable areas.
Data presented under Historical Climate Conditions are reanalysis products derived from ERA5-Land data. ERA5-Land is a global land-surface dataset at 9 km resolution, consistent with atmospheric data from the ERA5 reanalysis from 1950 onward. Climate reanalyses combine past observations with models to generate consistent time series of multiple climate variables. They provide a comprehensive description of the observed climate as it has evolved during recent decades, on 3D grids at sub-daily intervals.
This data has been collected, aggregated and processed by the Climate Resilience Cluster of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative.
- Along with sea-level rise, local records have also indicated a long-term increase in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and hourly maximum tide levels. This may greatly amplify coastal storm surge and wave-heights. The reported maximum storm surge height in Maldives is around 1.3 m which by itself is sufficient to inundate small and medium sized atolls.
- Coastal inundation associated with high waves and heavy rainfall in Maldives is often experienced during the interim period between the two monsoons that is during April and December. The swells and wind waves are typically strongest between April and July, and occur more frequently in the southern regions.
- From historical records, it is also evident that the northern region of Maldives has experienced significant tropical cyclone activity in the past. Although tropical cyclones may not form along Maldives’ coast, they often move into the region from the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian sea during the transition period between the two monsoons. The damages caused by these cyclones have resulted in up to 18 northern islands becoming uninhabited.
More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models project a rise of 0.18 to 0.59 m in global mean sea-levels by the end of the current century. This may increase vulnerability to coastal storm surges during extreme events, and may cause acute stress on water resources, infrastructure, etc. Maldives islands are particularly at risk, threatened with severe inundation by rising seas.
- Climate change is likely to increase food insecurity in Maldives, a country with a great nutritional dependence on fisheries. Furthermore, a population scattered across 195 islands makes disaster management and food distribution extremely difficult.
- Model projections have indicated that the intensity of tropical cyclones, along with associated wind speeds and precipitation is likely to increase in the future, aided by the ongoing increase in tropical sea surface temperatures. This means that northern and central Maldives could experience more intense tropical storms making these regions highly susceptible to related damages.