On October 29, Climate Central Organization (independent research organization on climate change) published a study on the impact of sea level rise on coastal countries. In which Vietnam is ranked fourth in the level of impact from sea level rise with 31 million people currently living in places lower than the average of the predicted floods in 2050 (an increase of 22 million people compared to previous forecasts using SRTM terrain data). 

Assoc.Prof. Huynh Thi Lan Huong, Deputy Director of Vietnam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), said that Climate Central’s research is a important message but not enough scientific basis due to using the wrong data and “based on many extreme assumptions at the same time”.

Mrs. Huong explained that in this study, Climate Central used the elevation topography data of US and then revised and applied it to other regions around the world. “This study did not use the actual elevation data for the Mekong Delta region, so the results were inaccurate”, said Associate Professor Huynh Thi Lan Huong. Moreover, Climate Central used the sea level rise assumption in combination with the flood tide assumption to develop a flood risk map, and this result cannot distinguish between flooding due to climate change (permanent flooding) and flooding due to tidal effect (temporary flooding).

Associate Professor Huynh Thi Lan Huong said that in 2016 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment developed a scenario on the impact of climate change and sea level rise, which said, “By 2100, the sea level will rise about one meter (100 cm) and will make nearly 18% of Ho Chi Minh City area, 39% of the Mekong Delta area at risk of flooding”.

Mrs. Huong confirmed that the data published by Climate Central “cannot be better than the data of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment”, which was developed by a Vietnamese professional agency based on the national landmark standards of surface area.

Also commenting this forecast of Climate Central, Prof. Dr. Le Huy Ba – Former Director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Environmental Management, Ho Chi Minh City University of Industry said: “Flood predictions are only outlines and not completely accurate. However, Vietnam is one of the five countries most affected by climate change, especially the South. The effects of climate change are real and exist day by day”.

Prof. Dr. Le Huy Ba also said that currently we can only adapt, not against the change of nature. When the sea level rises, agriculture, industry, transportation … have to change. Vietnam may even lose its largest rice bowl in the country, the Mekong Delta.