Singapore’s just-released National Climate Change Study forecasts a rise in sea-level, higher temperatures and more extreme rainfall patterns - even if we cut emissions. Not good for the island state. By Jeremy Torr.
Singapore, April 2015 – Singapore’s Meteorological Service Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) has released its initial findings from its Second National Climate Change Study conducted over recent months. The results are not encouraging.
CCRS used two different computer models that simulate the most likely scenarios that would happen in Singapore. The first looked at what CCRS called a ‘business as usual' scenario where fossil fuels usage continued without significant change, leading to "very high greenhouse gas emissions" that build ever higher the 21st century. The second projected some action to control emissions, leading to a peak around 2050, then a decline.
HOTTER and HOTTER
In the first and more bleak scenario, temperatures would average from 2.9° to 4.6°C higher over the next 50-80 years. As for rainfall, it would become more extreme. Thecontrast between wetter and drier months will grow, and seasonal rainfall will increase during the November - January wet season, but will be accompanied by much drier conditions from (February and June - September), up to a 30% decrease in rainfall.
And for sea levels, the study projected a staggering 0.45m to 1.02m rise by the year 2100 if no changes in emissions are achieved. Even under the best scenario Singapore faces a mean sea level rise of 0.25m to 0.60m between 2070 and 2099. With some recent UN-sanctioned studies projecting the displacement of several million people from southeast Asia's coastal zones (of which Singapore is a complete example) in the event of a 1-m rise in sea level, the future could be potentially disastrous for many Singaporeans.
But it not just flooding and erratic rain that will bother us in coming decades. According to Chris Gordon, director of the CCRS, higher temperatures will lead to increases in the incidence of heat stress, which is uncomfortable at the best of times but can be fatal for old people or babies.
“This discomfort that people experience in hot and humid weather is [even more] important for people working outdoors,” said Gordon.
The historical norm in Singapore is for some 25 days a year when temperatures go above 34°C. Even in the best case scenario, with reduced emissions, we could see anything between 74 and 108 days at that extreme temperature. That's a possible four-fold increase.
"Not many people would doubt that some part of the temperature change we have seen [already] for Singapore is due to climate change," said Gordon, although he noted that changing rainfall patterns could be due to other issues.
The study, commissioned by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the UK'sMet Office, should be completed by the end of the year to give yet more data on our upcoming climate.
According to the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the results of climate change on southeast Asia as a whole would be severe, with "climate extremes, particularly floods, droughts and tropical cyclones, [with] large areas of the region highly prone to flooding and monsoons."
IFAD has pointed out secondary effects from the changes in temperature, sea-level and precipitation that include coastal erosion and land loss, inundation and sea flooding, upstream movement of the saline or freshwater front, and seawater intrusion into freshwater (drinking source) areas.
The writing is already on the wall, without doubt. As well as the projections of the report, the facts bear out significant changes in the weather already. February last year was the driest month for Singapore in 145 years, with Australian-style parched lawns and wilting, leafless trees. And although the forecasters say that kind of "big dry" is not likely to happen every year, they do admit that it is likely to become much more frequent.
Turn down the air-con and get out the bicycle before we all sink under the waves.
- For more information about the CCRS report,go to : http://www.nea.gov.sg/corporate-functions/newsroom/news-releases/second-national-climate-change-study-findings-released
- For more about the IFAD report, go to : http://www.ifad.org/events/apr09/impact/se_asia.pdf
This NTS Issues Brief is based on the proceedings of the Expert Group Meeting on the Impact of Climate Change on ASEAN Food Security held in June 2013. The Meeting called for higher priority to be given to research on climate shifts at national and local scales, as well as greater focus on agricultural R&D. It also highlighted the need for resource and knowledge inputs from actors throughout food value chains in the region.
Click here to read the NTS Issues Brief
More storm surges in Metro Manila. Unending flash floods deluge Central Luzon. Devastating landslides bury communities in Compostela Valley and Baguio City.Small islands erase from the map. What next? By Henrylito D. Tacio
Manilla July 8 2013.
Super typhoons come one after another. Less rice served in the table. Fish is no longer poor man’s source of meat. Are these scenarios farfetched and unlikely?
Not so, according to the newly-released World Bank report, “Getting a Grip on Climate Change in the Philippines."
“The Philippines is the third most vulnerable country to weather-related extreme events, earthquakes, and sea level rise.
The country’s exposure to extreme weather conditions adversely affects people’s lives, especially those in high-risk urban and coastal areas.
Food security is threatened as land and nursery areas for plant, trees, and fisheries are affected by climate change,” said Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering of the Climate Change Commission (CCC).
Although climate change affects everyone, it is the poor who are generally affected.
“Informal settlers, which account for 45 percent of the Philippines’ urban population, are particularly vulnerable to floods due to less secure infrastructure, reduced access to clean water, and lack of health insurance,” the World Bank report pointed out As disaster-prone country, the Philippines is already feeling the impacts of climate change.
“By virtue of its location, climate, and topography, the Philippines is exposed to a range of climate-related hazards,” the report said.
“Sixteen of its provinces are among the top 50 most vulnerable regions in Southeast Asia.
Some of the climate-related impacts which are projected to increase in the coming decades:
- More intense typhoons, whose storm surges will be superimposed on higher sea levels. Storm surges are projected to affect about 14 percent of the total population and 42 percent of the coastal population.
- A 30-centimeter sea level rise by 2040 is expected to reduce rice production in the region’s major rice growing areas by about 2.6 million tons per year.
- Warming oceans and ocean acidification affect coral reefs, which serve as important feeding and spawning grounds for many fish species that support the livelihoods of fisher folk.
As the country is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the report urges the government to implement “the measures needed to protect itself against ever-increasing climate change and variability.
The report cited the current Philippines Development Plan, which aims to accelerate annual economic growth of the country to 7-8 percent.
“Unless it is planned and carried out with accommodation to future climate change in mind, the development plan could be locked into infrastructure development, land use changes and urbanization processes that are more vulnerable to climate risks,” the report explained.
Since the process of developing institutions to implement climate reforms can be lengthy, the report suggested: “The time to start acting is now.
Scientists attribute climate change to the rise in global temperature brought about by increased emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Increased emissions of these gases have been attributed to human activities such as burning of fossil fuels in motor vehicles and power plants, degradation of forests, and change in land use.
Globally, the Philippines is a minor global contributor to climate change. But it is the third most vulnerable country to weather-related extreme events, earthquakes, and sea level rise on a worldwide basis.
“The Philippines’ greenhouse emissions rank in the top 25 percent of low and middle income countries, with significant increases projected in the coming decades,” the report said.
“Emissions from the energy sector are projected to quadruple by 2030, and the transport sector is expected to double its emissions,” the report added.
In the report’s foreword, Sering reiterated: “For the Philippines to reduce poverty, accelerate economic growth, and create jobs, it is therefore necessary to address the country’s vulnerabilities to climate change. This can be accomplished by reducing the exposure and improving the adaptive capacity of communities are risk,” she pointed out.