L'effet environnemental des tsunamis

Les rapports sur les tsunamis qui ont dévasté l'Asie du Sud-est à peine un mois auparavant ont été dominé, de manière compréhensible, par des récits de mort, de souffrance, et par la destruction physique de l'infrastructure. Mais l'homme n'a pas été le seul à ressentir l'impact de cet événement. Les écosystèmes et d'autres espèces ont également été touchés.

Il est certain que les photographies et les images vidéo transmises par les médias ont montré des arbres emportés par des vagues et des terres gorgées d'eau. D'autres rapports ont fait état de la faune et de la flore qui avaient échappé à la destruction, comme si un instinct leur avait dit de chercher refuge sur des terres plus hautes avant l'arrivée des vagues des tsunamis. Et cependant, les retombées complètes de l'impact environnemental des tsunamis ne font l'objet d'aucun rapport en dépit de leur importance manifeste pour la récupération des zones touchées et le bien-être des survivants.

L'expérience dérivée de précédents tsunamis et autres inondations majeures suggère que les dommages environnementaux qu'ils infligent sont liés à la pénétration d'eau salée dans les nappes phréatiques et à la disparition ou au déplacement des plages. Les tsunamis peuvent rendre des petites îles basses inhabitables. La végétation des vastes étendues des plaines peut être considérablement endommagée lorsque des palétuviers et des plantes tolérant l'eau salée remplacent d'autres espèces. Pour les rares animaux ayant des sites de reproduction spécifiques, comme les tortues marines, les effets du tsunami pourraient signifier leur extinction.

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