SINGAPORE: In response to the findings of the third Singapore National Climate Change Study released on Friday, Jan 5, government agencies are taking steps to address the threat of rising sea levels.

The third climate change study reveals that sea levels are projected to rise under all three outlined scenarios, posing a significant risk to the low-lying areas of the city-state, Channel News Asia reports.

Underlining the gravity of the situation, the study predicts a mean sea level rise ranging from 0.23m to 1.15m by the end of the century, relative to the baseline period of 1995 to 2014.

The implications of extreme weather events, such as high tides and storm surges, could cause sea levels to spike by an alarming 4m to 5m.

This escalation in sea levels puts approximately 30% of Singapore’s land, less than 5m above the mean sea level, at risk of submersion. The study also highlights the increased frequency of heavy rainfall, further exacerbating the risk of flooding in coastal areas.

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The key government agencies responding to this threat are the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), National Parks Board (NParks), and the national water agency PUB.

Their representatives and an expert from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) gathered at a symposium to discuss the study’s findings and propose strategies for mitigation.

The agencies are particularly concerned about the combined impact of rising sea levels and heavy rainfall, which poses a heightened risk of transient flooding in coastal areas over the long term.

NParks director of coastal and marine, Karenne Tun, emphasises the importance of understanding climate change’s impact on trees and preventing them from becoming liabilities:

“You see the trees in your parks, in your gardens … so we need it for cooling. But all the amenities that they provide, they can also provide dis-amenities when there’s a massive storm and the tree falls.”

She added, “What version three then will do is provide the kind of data that will help us refine some of these models that we are using so that we can then know where do we prune the trees, what trees should be pruned, how much should they be pruned, at what time of the year, so that they do not become dis-amenities.”

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Hazel Khoo, PUB’s director of the coastal protection department, underscores the need to study the potential impact of higher wind speeds on coastal surges and wave events:

“That is something that we will actually study and then we will use these projections and inputs together with our coastal-inland flood model that we are currently developing, it will give us an updated insight on the flood risk arising from both rainfall as well as sea level rise.”

PUB’s spokesperson said in a separate statement: “We will implement measures required in the nearer term while making plans and provisions for future adaptations needed.”

PUB is set to implement measures to adapt to a potential sea level rise of up to 2m.

These measures include a continuous monitoring framework, in collaboration with the Centre for Climate Research Singapore, to track actual mean sea level rise and evaluate necessary adjustments to planned adaptation measures.

Singapore currently has hard structures to safeguard 70% of its coasts. Ongoing studies focus on tailoring protection methods for different shorelines. /TISG