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The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia$
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Avijit Gupta

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248025

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199248025.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 07 December 2021

Subsidence and Flooding in Bangkok

Subsidence and Flooding in Bangkok

Chapter:
(p.358) 21 Subsidence and Flooding in Bangkok
Source:
The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia
Author(s):

Noppadol Phienwej

Prinya Nutalaya

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199248025.003.0033

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is situated on flat, low land in the southern part of the Central Plain, one of the main physical units of the country. Through the heart of the city, the Chao Phraya flows from the north and discharges into the Gulf of Thailand, 25 km south of the city centre. The city was founded in 1782, and in its early years numerous klongs (canals) were dug for transportation and defence uses. These canals became corridors of early development, and banks were lined with houses, shop-houses, and temples, etc. With the beauty of its waterway landscape, Bangkok was once dubbed the Venice of the East. Unfortunately, such a resemblance no longer exists as most of the canals have been backfilled to make room for road construction in recent urbanization. The Bangkok metropolis, which at present has a population in excess of 10 million, has expanded rapidly on both banks of the river since 1950. It has encroached into surrounding provinces, covering an area of approximately 60 × 70 km. Owing to its flat topography and close proximity to the sea, flooding threatens the city annually. Modern urbanization has resulted in the drastic destruction or blockage of natural drainage paths, increasing the flood risk to the city. Severe land subsidence from excessive groundwater extraction since the 1960s has intensified the flood risk, as well as creating numerous foundation problems. At present the land surface in some areas is already below mean sea level. The city now has to rely on a flood protection system to prevent inundation. However, its effectiveness is only temporary because land subsidence has not yet ceased. The Central Plain is formed by the Chao Phraya River, the largest in the country. The river basin stretches from the Northern Highland to the Central Plain and covers about one-third of the country (514 000 km2). The Central Plain can be divided into the Upper and Lower Central Plains. The former extends from Tak to Nakhon Sawan Provinces. Four main rivers, namely, the Ping, the Wang, the Yom, and the Nan, which originate in the Northern Highland, traverse the plain and join together at Nakhon Sawan, 240 km north of Bangkok, to form the Chao Phraya River.

Keywords:   Yom, floodplain, groundwater, klongs, mangrove, salt-water intrusion, subsidence, urbanization, wang

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