The contribution of coastal land subsidence to potential sea-level rise impact in data-sparse settings: The case of Ghana's Volta delta

Selasi Yao Avornyo*, Philip S.J. Minderhoud, Pietro Teatini, Katharina Seeger, Leon T. Hauser, Marie Noëlle Woillez, Philip Neri Jayson-Quashigah, Edem Mahu, Michael Kwame-Biney, Kwasi Appeaning Addo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Deltas are highly valuable environmental systems, ensuring various livelihoods through their ecosystem services. However, human impact and climate change stressors are impacting deltas immensely. Consequently, many deltas, including Ghana's Volta Delta, are facing increasing risks, especially as hazards are increasing in magnitude and impacting coastal livelihoods. To provide a better understanding of coastal hazards in the Volta Delta, this study assessed the Delta's subsidence regime and its consequences for the potential impact of sea-level rise (SLR). Using the Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) technique and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) surveys, vertical land motion (VLM) was documented. Interferograms of Sentinel-1 data from 2016 to 2020 indicated subsiding rates of up to −9.2 mm/yr. By combining local VLM information with recent SLR projections and elevation data, this study updates those projections and provides local assessments of potential Relative SLR (rSLR) impact. According to these locally improved scenarios, up to ∼45 % of the Delta will fall below local sea level by 2100, of which close to 10 % is explained by the integration of local VLM data alone. Depending on the climate change scenarios used, land subsidence will increase the deltaic area at risk by 4.31 % (96.27 km2) to 10.18 % (227.64 km2) and consequently exacerbate its exposure to coastal inundation. To avert the projections, the study recommends robust monitoring regimes; alternative freshwater sources to groundwater; reduced sediment trapping and river obstruction; and the need to stall ongoing oil and gas prospecting and subsequent extraction in the Voltain Basin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100175
JournalQuaternary Science Advances
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Flooding
  • Land subsidence
  • PS-InSAR
  • Relative sea-level rise
  • Volta delta

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