Coastal cities around the world are facing multiple environmental challenges, including rising seas, increasing storm surges and more frequent flooding.

As the video above from the University of Wollongong shows, megacities in Southeast Asia — such as Jakarta, Indonesia — are particularly at risk.

Over the past 20 years, Jakarta has experienced one of the highest rates of urbanization in the world — with a current population of over 30 million in the greater metropolitan area. Compounding the city’s problems is the fact that most of the land lies within a watershed that is prone to flooding during the monsoon season.

Realizing the city has a high rate of social media usage, a team of researchers led by Tomas Holderness & Etienne Turpin developed an open source map that monitors tweets related to flooding in real time.

According to Turpin, harnessing the power of social media is helping “provide an information system and decision support system for the flood management team in Jakarta.”

Over the long range, projects like this may help other coastal cities better prepare for and adapt to increased flooding as the planet warms. View Ensia homepage