Coastal areas of Orissa State in the northeastern part of the Indian peninsula are potentially vulnerable to accelerated erosion hazard. Along the 480-km coastline, most of the coastal areas, including tourist resorts, hotels, fishing villages, and towns, are already threatened by recurring storm flood events and severe coastal erosion. The coastal habitats, namely the largest rookeries in the world for olive Ridley sea turtles (the extensive sandy beaches of Gahirmatha and Rushikulya), Asia's largest brackish water lagoon (the “Chilika”), extensive mangrove cover of Bhitarkanika (the wildlife sanctuary), the estuarine systems, and deltaic plains are no exception. .The present study therefore is an attempt to develop a coastal vulnerability index (CVI) for the maritime state of Orissa using eight relative risk variables. Most of these parameters are dynamic in nature and require a large amount of data from different sources. In some cases, the base data is from remote sensing satellites; for others it is either from long-term in situ measurements or from numerical models. Zones of vulnerability to coastal natural hazards of different magnitude (high, medium, and low) are identified and shown on a map. In earlier studies, tidal range was assumed to include both permanent and episodic inundation hazards. However, the mean of the long-term tidal records tends to dampen the effect of episodic inundation hazards such as tsunamis. For this reason, in the present study, tsunami run-up has been considered as an additional physical process parameter to calculate the CVI. Coastal regional elevation has also been considered as an additional important variable. This is the first such study that has been undertaken for a part of the Indian coastline. The map prepared for the Orissa coast under this study can be used by the state and district administration involved in the disaster mitigation and management plan.
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Vol. 2010 • No. 263