The northern area of Jakarta is where the land surface is sinking fastest. Yulius Satria Wijaya/Antara

Indonesia's capital Jakarta is sinking. Here's how to stop this

As Indonesia’s capital and most populous megacity, Jakarta needs rapid solutions to tackle the problems of land subsidence and sea-level rise.

recent study by the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) stated that, without aggressive effort, around 25% of the capital area will be submerged in 2050.

The risk could increase twofold or even more because of climate change.

In late July, US President Joe Biden even said Indonesia may have to move its capital in ten years because Jakarta is “going to be underwater” due to its environmental issues.

Increased temperatures caused by climate change have melted three glacier regions of the Earth: Antarctica in the southern polar region, Greenland in the north and the Himalayan mountains. As a result, the volume of seawater has increased and seas have expanded, putting coastal areas in danger of submerging.

Strong surges, cyclones and tides due to the changing climate add to the problems of the high water.

On top of that, Jakarta is routinely flooded due to upstream heavy rainfalls or local rainfalls.

Multiple efforts to tackle these issues are urgently needed.

The land surface is sinking while the sea is rising

The latest study from IPB University in West Java, Indonesia, showed various areas in Jakarta were at risk of sinking between 1.8cm and 10.7cm per year during 2019 and 2020.

The worst change in land level occurred in North Jakarta with land subsidence estimated at around 4.9cm a year.

The research found the main cause of the problem is overuse of groundwater by home drilling as a result of massive developments.

Residents of Jakarta use their own wells to get freshwater from underground. The continuous water intake from the ground wells has produced a massive empty space underground, which becomes the major subsidence area.

The development of large buildings, hotels and shopping have also encouraged excessive use of groundwater.

The municipalities of the capital have banned those customers from taking groundwater. However, the policy has not been effective in stopping violations.

While the capital’s land surface is sinking, the sea is rising.

Research found the sea-level rise is about 3.6mm per year.

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