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UC Researcher Seeking to Mitigate Flooding Damage to Tokyo

University of Canterbury Researcher Seeking to Mitigate Flooding Damage to Tokyo

September 7, 2014

University of Canterbury geography researcher Dr Christopher Gomez is investigating river flooding problems and potential solutions for Tokyo city, which is more than eight times the population of New Zealand.

Dr Gomez is also looking at land-use planning and bio-engineering solutions to limit the impact of a tsunami striking Tokyo. He is an international expert on surface water flooding, and his research is being funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Japanese Government.

``My research shows that unfortunately such flooding events are a scary reality for numerous cities around the globe, including Tokyo, Jogjakarta, in central Java, Indonesia and even Wellington. We have vivid memories of what has happened in the United Kingdom this year and also in Christchurch – and we have to learn to better manage such events.

``Many city populations have settled in the vicinity of rivers, and even more by the coast, because they provide commercial pathways, sources of energy and sources of food. At the same time, when these rivers flood or are heavily polluted, they become a hazard.

``I’m seeking ways to produce an integrated flooding management system for Tokyo which will accommodate ecological consideration and use bio-engineering solutions to also limit the impact of a tsunami.

``I’m investigating the land around the Tamagawa River, in the west of Tokyo, an area that has seen an urban boom since World War 2. My research will be used as a laboratory for the management of waterways in New Zealand, which is facing increasing challenges to balance its economic activity with the quality of its waterways.’’

Dr Gomez’s project will connect with a coastal earthquakes water project he is working on in Christchurch in collaboration with one of the university’s civil engineers Dr Sonia Giovinazzi and hazards management expert Dr Tom Wilson, under the direction of Dr Deirdre Hart.

He says hopefully the Japanese experience will help New Zealand make more informed and better choices relating to flooding or natural disaster management.

``The flooding we have seen in Christchurch this year was strongly linked to the earthquakes that lowered several parts of Christchurch land. My research will help develop solutions for better flood-proofing our cities against either tsunami or river flooding.’’


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