News Release

Are sponge cities a solution to growing urban flooding problems?

Peer-Reviewed Publication


So-called sponge cities use green roofs, rain gardens, wetlands, and other nature-based measures to absorb, retain, and purify excessive stormwater. A perspective published in WIREs Water discusses the potential of such initiatives to address flooding, and lists key components required for success.

The authors note that the national Sponge City Programme in China, which was initiated in 2014 and already supported 30 pilot cities for stormwater management, has been extended for a new roll-out phase from 2021–2023, with a first group of 20 cities announced in June 2021. The article provides a roadmap for this next stage development, which can play a key role in building flood resilience and adapting cities to climate change.

"Sponge cities have been heralded as a sustainable solution to China's urban flooding, but there are limits to how much rainfall they can absorb, so incorporation of a wider set of community-based interventions will be vital to make sponge cities flood resilient," said corresponding author Guangtao Fu, PhD, of the University of Exeter, in the UK.

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About the Journal

The award-winning WIREs (Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews) series combines some of the most powerful features of encyclopedic reference works and review journals in an innovative online format. They are designed to promote a cross-disciplinary research ethos while maintaining the highest scientific and presentational standards, but should be viewed first and foremost as evolving online databases of cutting-edge reviews.

The scope of WIREs Water is at the interfaces between five very different intellectual themes: the basic science of water, its physics and chemistry, flux, and things that it transfers and transforms; life in water, and the dependence of ecosystems and organisms on water to survive and to thrive; the engineering of water to furnish services and to protect society; the people who live with, experience and manage the water environment; and those interpretations that we, as a society, have brought to water through art, religion, history and which in turn shapes how we come to understand it. 

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