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Research Article ISSN 22779051

International Journal of Remote Sensing and GIS, Volume 1, Issue 3, 2012, 175-182
Copyright 2012, All rights reserved Research Publishing Group
www.rpublishing.org

Chennai Coast Vulnerability Assessment Using Optical Satellite


Data and GIS Techniques
V.E. Nethaji Mariappan1* and R. Santhi Devi2
1
Scientist-D, Centre for Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics, Sathyabama University,
Rajiv Gandhi Road, Jeppiaar Nagar, Chennai 600 119
2
Lecturer, Bharathi Womens College, Chennai
*Corresponding author Email:nethajim@gmail.com
Received 24 October 2012; received in revised form 2 January 2013; accepted 3 January 2013

ABSTRACT: The study area comprise Chennai coast covering a linear extent of 10 Km from Kovalam to
Mamallapuram, Kancheepuram district. Geographically study area lies between 120 35 to 120 50 East Latitude
and 800 12 to 800 16 North Longitude. Risk variables such as geomorphology, shoreline change, slope, wave
height, tidal range, and bathymetry are used to derive coastal vulnerability index. Based on the nature of the
theme vulnerability value was assigned a for each data variable, the coastal vulnerability index was calculated as
the square root of the product of the ranked variables divided by the total number of variables. Result of the
analysis showed that vulnerability of the coast was segmented as highly vulnerable and less vulnerable. The
coast between Kovalam to Mamallapuram was accreted on the northern region and few areas of southern parts
of the study. The shoreline change value used here, with positive numbers indicating accretion and negative
numbers indicating erosion. Shoreline change rates on Chennai range from -0.1- 0.1 (0.16) m/yr of erosion (high
vulnerability) and accretion to (0.45) m/yr (moderate vulnerability) were derived and 0.29m/y (low
vulnerability). The study area was classified as the high vulnerable zone and therefore coastal protection
measures are to be adopted in order to safeguard the Chennai coast.

Key words: Chennai coast, thematic layers, Shore line displacement, Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI)

1. INTRODUCTION

Earth's resources are disturbed by increase in population, disturbing the environment for stabilizing
sophistication that adds increased vulnerability of man and his infrastructure to the natural hazards. Population
deployment in urban areas and their societal development is inevitable. Therefore, it is important to recognize
that improved technology can be effectively used for the societal issues in disaster monitoring.

The disaster monitoring system using space technology is indispensable for weather forecast, pollution
monitoring, forest and grass fire, flood, tidal inundation, tsunami etc.,. Satellite monitoring by meteorological
and earth observation involves pre and post assessment of natural disaster such as the damage incurred during
the disaster Sankar Kumar Nath et.al, (2008); and also suggests escape routes, locations, temporary housing etc.
and provide an early warning alert to the society.
Post disaster; require mitigation efforts that can be structural or non-structural. Structural measures use
technological solutions, like flood levees. Non-structural measures include legislation, land-use planning and
insurance. Mitigation is the most cost-efficient method for reducing the impact of hazards.

Risk assessment of various hazards like earthquakes, floods, cyclones and tsunami require meticulous
prediction using geospatial tools and models. Such prediction should also specify the level of hazard at spatial
scale enabling the policy planers to take up necessary steps to overcome the hazard.

The vulnerability index is described by the USGS, the seven relative risk variables contained within
this data base may be used to formulate a coastal vulnerability index. This index may be used to identify areas
that are at risk to erosion and/or permanent or temporary inundation. Grid cells and/or line segments with high
index values will tend to have low reliefs, erodible substrates, histories of subsidence and shoreline retreat, and
high wave and tide energies (Gornitz et. al., 1991).

The Coastal Vulnerability Index is one the indices used to assess coast at time of natural disaster was
used by Thieler and Hammar-Klose (1999); Gornitz et al. (1994) and Shaw et. al. (1998). However, the Coastal
Vulnerability Index (C.V.I.) developed by Gornitz et al. (1997) and Shaw et al. (1998) were used in this study.

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The study area, Chennai coast lie along the Bay of Bengal is one of the five cyclones prone areas of
the world is likely vulnerable to Natural Hazards. Occurrence of Tsunami in 2004, frequent floods due to
cyclone especially during North East Monsoon lead to lot of structural changes along the shores of the city.
Changing Climate scenario and resultant sea level rise in Chennai are also reported to be one of the factors for
Coastal vulnerability hazard. Therefore a study has been taken up to assess coastal vulnerability using remote
sensing and GIS. The objective of this study is to identify vulnerable areas of Chennai coast with special
reference to various coastal hazards using advanced Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System
(GIS).

2. METHODOLOGY
2.1. Study Area

Chennai coast covering an extent of 10 Km from Kovalam to Mamallapuram, was taken up for coastal
vulnerability assessment to natural disaster. The study area lies between 120 35 to 120 50 North Latitude and
800 12 to 800 16 East Longitude. Tsunami has struck Chennai coast on 26th December, 2004 causing maximum
devastation to inland settlement. The extent of wave penetration during Tsunami was 1.0 1.5 km from
seashore. Hence a width of 2 km from High Tide Line was used for this study (fig.1). The total area for
Vulnerability mapping in Chennai coast was 20 sq. km.

Chennai city has been a major kind of attraction due to rapid development and establishment of major
ports, a fishing harbor and industries covering thermal power plants, refineries, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers and
amusement parks. A lot of factors such as dense population, encroachment are responsible for degradation of
coastal and inland ecosystem. Hence, there is an urgent need for vulnerability assessment and vulnerability
mapping for entire Tamil Nadu coast and specifically Chennai coast.

Tamil Nadu

Fig.1 Base map of the study area

2.2 Satellite Data Acquisition

Landsat ETM data of path 142 and row 051 of 1:50000 scale corresponding the date of acquisition 07th
February, 2006 comprising band 2, 3 and 4 with a spatial resolution of 30 m were downloaded as GeoTIFF
format as individual bands from the (Global Land Cover Facility) GLCF website
http://glcfapp.glcf.umd.edu:8080/esdi/index.jsp. These bands were subjected to geometric corrections to
minimize the geometric distortions introduced by extraneous factors. Individual bands were layer stacked and
mosaicked in order to get entire study area in Universal Traverse Mercator (UTM) projection in Leica's Erdas
Imagine 8.7 software. A vector dataset in shape file format of Chennai coast was derived from Survey of India
1972 topo sheet of same scale f satellite data and overlaid above the composite image, thus study area boundary
was subset from the entire scene was used for thematic map generation.

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2.3 Spatial thematic generation


Thematic maps such as slope, geomorphology, shore line displacement, tidal ranges, wave heights and
bathymetry was generated and integrated with historical data of the coastal hazards in GIS environment. GIS
layers such as slope, shore line displacement, geomorphology as polygons, bathymetry, wave heights and tidal
ranges as line layers were derived from the satellite data. Ranks and weightages were assigned to thematic
layers (Table 1) according to their vulnerability nature of the variable prone to hazards. Coastal Vulnerability
Index was arrived by as the square root of the product of the ranked variables divided by the total number of
variables and further classified as high, medium and low.

Table.1 Criterion for Vulnerability Ranking of Variables on the Chennai Coast

Sl Variables Low Moderate High


No
1 Geomorphology Alluvial plain Coastal Plain older and Beach, salt pan
(area in sq.km) shallow and Coastal plain young and flood basin
Alluvial plain
shallow
2 Shoreline Erosion(-) >+1.0 -0.1 1.0 <-1.0
Accretion(+)m/y
3 Coastal Slope (%) 2-3 1-2 0-1
4 Wave Height(m) 0.55 -0 .85 0.86-1.05 >1.06
5 Tide Range (m) > 0.5 0.1-0.5 < 0.1
6 Bathymetry Value (m) 36-50 21-35 5-20
The identified area having high coastal vulnerability index values will tend to have low reliefs, erodible
substrates, histories of subsidence and shoreline retreat, and high wave and tide energies.
2.4 Calculating the Coastal Vulnerability Index
The CVI allows the six variables to be related in a quantifiable manner that expresses the relative
vulnerability of the coast to geological and physical changes due to future sea-level rise. This method yields
numerical data that cannot be equated directly with particular physical effects. It does, however, highlight areas
where the various effects of sea-level rise may be the greatest. Once, each section of coastline is assigned a
vulnerability value for each specific data variable, the coastal vulnerability index is calculated as the square root
of the product of the ranked variables divided by the total number of variables (USGS Open-File Report pp.
2004).

CVI= (a*b*c*d*e*f)
6
where, a = geomorphology, b = shoreline erosion/accretion rate, c = coastal slope, d = bathymetry, e = wave
height, and f = tide range. The calculated CVI value is then divided by the total n umber of variables to highlight
different vulnerabilities within the coast. The numeric CVI values that correspond to a specific vulnerability
index (lowmedium-high) are unique to Chennai coast. This approach best describes and highlights the
vulnerability specific areas. The index allows the six physical variables to be related in a quantifiable manner
that expresses the relative vulnerability of the coast to physical changes due to natural disaster.

3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

3.1 Geomorphology
Visual interpretation of satellite data and geomorphology map of Chennai were used for generation of
geomorphology layer of Chennai coast. The study area were classified into eight categories viz., buried
pediplain, alluvial plain, Shallow alluvial, coastal plain older, coastal plain younger, flood plain, saltpan and
beach. Based on the formation they were regrouped into three categories viz., Buried Pediplain, Mud flat and
young coastal plain in the order of high vulnerability to low in table 2. Random field checks were made within
the area to verify the geomorphologic classifications.

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Table 2. Geomorphology categories derived from satellite data


Geomorphology Area in Area in (%)
sq.km.
Buried Pediplain 13.12 31.81
Mud Flat 17.02 41.26
Young Coastal Plain 11.11 26.93
Total Area 41.25 100

The different geomorphic categories considered to be highly vulnerable were beach, salt pan with flood
basin; moderate vulnerability zone are older coastal plain and younger coastal plain and the low vulnerable like
alluvial plain deep and alluvial plain shallow. Among high vulnerable category beach was considered to be most
vulnerable in addition anthropogenic activities like building construction, dredging of coastal areas and fishing
activities are most common in those areas.

3.2 Coastal slope


Elevation data were obtained from the total station at an interval of 250 meters. Those data were
incorporated in to the ArcGIS software as point values were then spatially interpolated to polygon data. The
determination of regional coastal slope identifies the relative vulnerability of inundation and the potential
rapidity of shoreline retreat similarly low-sloping coastal regions should retreat faster than steeper regions
(Pilkey and Davis, 1987); (U.S. Department of the Interior San Francisco Bay Area Network Inventory and
Monitoring Program Resource Brief June 2010). A major part of the study area falls under the high vulnerability
region (33.69sq.km; 82.21 per cent). (Table. 3).

Table 3. Slope ranking and its area of Chennai coast


Ranking Area(sq.km.) Area in %
0-1 33.69 82.21
1-2 6.99 16.53
2-3 0.52 1.26
Total 41.2 100

3.3 Shoreline Displacement

Shoreline displacement represents the horizontal movements of a shoreline with reference to


benchmark shoreline. Landsat ETM data of path 142 and row 051 of 1:50000 scale corresponding the date of
acquisition 07th February, 2006 has been compared with the topographical maps (as reference line) on 1:50,000
corresponding to the year 1972 and thus shoreline displacement delineated was provided in the figure 2.
Shoreline erosion map prepared from toposheet of the year 1972, Landsat ETM data (2006) data was used for
Shoreline rates of change (m/yr) were calculated at 200 m intervals (transects) along the study area. Rate of
shoreline displacement has been calculated as follows

Value
Rate =
((year1- year2) + 1)

where year 1 represent reference shoreline SOI toposheet (1972) and year 2 as by the of the IRS P6 data for the
year 2005. The shoreline change value with positive numbers indicates accretion and negative numbers indicate
erosion Gutierrez et al. (2009). Shoreline change rates on Chennai ranking range from -0.1- 0.1 (0.16) m/yr of
erosion (moderate vulnerability) and accretion to (0.45) m/yr (moderate vulnerability) were derived (Table. 4
and Figure. 2).

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Table No. 4. Shoreline Displacement

Ranking Shoreline category Area in (sq.km)


>+1.0 Erosion and Accretion 0.61
-0.1 1.0 Erosion 0.16
<-1.0 Accretion 0.45
Figure.2. Shoreline displacement of Chennai coast

3.4 Wave Height

Wave heights were obtained from Tide table of the year 2005. The observations clearly indicated the behaviour
of waves was higher during the monsoon seasons especially during North East monsoon and lower during the
Winter Season i.e. during the months of February and March. The range of wave heights at lower, medium and
higher intervals was 0.16-0.48; 0.49-1.01 and 0.81- 1.71m respectively. Therefore it was construed that
significant wave heights are prone to natural disaster. As per the criterion table the study area was construed as
moderate coastal vulnerability.

3.5 Bathymetry

Bathymetry map were derived from the NIO charts possessing bathymetry values. Those point values were
plotted in ArcGIS environment from a depth of 5 m to 50m. Point observations representing each depth were
manipulated to derived line values. It is inferred from the bathymetric values near to the shore 5 to 20m was
most vulnerable zone, 20 to 35m as most vulnerable to moderate and the 35 to 50m as low vulnerable (Figure
3).

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Figure 3. Bathymetry map of Chennai coast

3.6 Tidal range


Higher tidal ranges lead to larger wave attack resulting greater vertical range, and may thus result in a
cause more rapid erosion within that zone, leading to shore collapse. Lesser tidal ranges exhibit less wave
energy concentrated on a narrower vertical range at the shore base and is thus likely to slower overall rate of
shore retreat (Thieler & Hammar-Klose, 1999). Periodic observation data explained the activity of tidal action
was high during January 0.6m to June -1.0m and the action was less for the remaining period in figure 4.

1.2
1
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0

Figure 4. Mean Tidal heights of Chennai coast

3.7 Data Ranking System


The quantitative and qualitative information on six variables in the table no.2, were used for analyzing
coastal hazards. Numeric variable values are assigned as vulnerability ranking based on ranges value, whereas
the non-numerical geomorphology variable is ranked qualitatively according to the relative resistance of a given
landform to erosion. Shorelines with historical erosion/accretion rates between -1.0 and +1.0 m/yr are ranked as
moderate. Regional coastal slopes range from very high risk, <1 percent to low risk at values >3 percent.

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Wave height ranges from low (<0.55 m) between high (>1.06 m). Tidal range was ranked such that micro tidal
(<0.1 m) coasts are high vulnerability and macro tidal (>0.5 m) coasts are very low vulnerability.

Figure 5. Overlay analysis of thematic layers

Overlay analysis of all thematic layers of the study area (Figure. 5) indicated that the ranking classes of
individual themes like Geomorphology, slope and shoreline displacement were initially intersected to form a
final map of the study area. Bathymetry along with shoreline displacement that forms a part on the coast
altogether overlaid on the land for a final coastal vulnerability assessment map. From the analysis of the
vulnerability index area has been ranked values (Table 5 & Figure 5). Therefore the study area has been
considered to be highly vulnerable Emiliano et al. (2011).
Table 5. Values were ranked as per Coastal Vulnerability Index.
Ranking Area in sq.km Area in %
Low 11.13 27.20
Moderate 14.23 34.77
High 15.56 38.03

The shoreline change value with positive numbers indicated accretion and negative numbers indicated
erosion. Shoreline change rates on Chennai ranking range from -0.1- 0.1 (0.16) m/yr of erosion (moderate
vulnerability) and accretion to (0.45) m/yr (moderate vulnerability) were derived.

4. CONCLUSION

Chennai coast Seashore preserves a dynamic natural environment, which must be understood in order to be
managed properly. The coastal vulnerability index (CVI) provides insight into the relative potential of coastal
change due to future sea-level rise. The thematic layers such as geomorphology, shoreline change, coastal slope,
and significant wave height are the most important variables in determining the CVI for part of Chennai
seashore. The entire beach was highly vulnerable, therefore, preventing or combating problems related to
inundation during storms was recommended. The damage to life and property could be reduced during storms or
tsunami by planting mangroves and saline tolerant trees.

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