Climate and urban sprawl is expected to negatively impact flooding in Lithuania‘s capital, Vilnius, writes a team of international researchers headed by MRU Environmental Management LAB Head Prof. Paulo Pereira in the latest 2022 volume, “Urban Soil and Water Degradation.“
“Heavy rain events are expected to be more frequent and intense due to climate change, which will likely increase the vulnerability of the urban area to flood episodes,“ writes the international team of researchers.
“The current urbanisation trend will increase the flooding risk and measures are needed to limit this“ said Prof. Pereira.
However he indicated that the floods in Lithuania are not so damaging compared to other parts of Central Europe.
Researchers noted that areas „with high flood regulation demand“ were located mainly in the Old Town and several areas located in Antakalnis, Žirmūnai, Naujoji Vilnia, Naujininkai, Karoliniškės, Šnipiškės and Žvėrynas.
The results of the research allow to share with city planners areas which have the ability to retain water such as Vingis Park and Verkių Park. In general, the urban forests and grasslands have a good capacity. Therefore it important to maintain it like that and avoid their impermiabilisation, said Prof. Pereira.
In order to plan for possible flooding Vilnius needs to have a good sewage system and to reduce soil impermeabilisation. Even more so than climate change, the dramatic rise of urban expansion is responsible for flooding. The best plan is to reduce urbanisation, Prof. Pereira noted.
In addition, he said it is necessary to avoid “the occupation of grasslands and abandoned agricultural fields with houses.”
“This research shows that so far Vilnius has some areas that naturally can retain floods. However, at the current rate of urbanisation and increasing intensive precipitation, the municipality of Vilnius can have more problems in the future," he said.
Prof. Pereira said that spring floods may decrease in Vilnius due to the winters with less snow. But, urbanisation can deepen the impact, he said.