SINGAPORE: The Centre for Climate Research will start a National Sea Level Programme this year to better study how a rise in sea levels could impact Singapore, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said on Thursday (Mar 7).
It will bring together researchers from the centre, local universities as well as international experts.
Their findings will help the Government develop "robust projections and plans" for the long term, Mr Masagos said in his Committee of Supply speech in Parliament.
Singapore is “particularly vulnerable” to the negative impact of climate change and rising sea levels, noted a January 2019 Ecosperity Conversations report by Temasek.
“Between 1993 and 2009, the rate of increase of the mean sea level around Singapore was almost two times higher than the global sea level,” the report stated.
Apart from being a low-lying city, Singapore is also affected by the gravitational-attraction impact exerted by melting ice sheets.
"This refers to the effect of higher sea level rise in areas that are located further away from ice sheets due to the reduced gravitational attraction on ocean waters that are in closest proximity to the melting ice sheet," the report explained.
"As counterintuitive as it may sound, this makes the Southeast Asian region particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels as compared to countries located closer to the ice sheets."
The report covered key topics discussed during a session with Professor Benjamin Horton, a leading expert on climate change and rising sea levels. Prof Horton is also chair at the Asian School of the Environment at Nanyang Technological University.
IMPROVING FLOOD RESILIENCE, INVESTING IN RESEARCH
Climate change could also bring about more frequent intense storms, which could mean more floods, said Mr Masagos, adding that the Government is improving the country's flood resilience by upgrading waterways.
"Upgrading works at two major waterways, the Bukit Timah First Diversion Canal and Sungei Pandan Kechil, will be completed this year," he said.
"We will commence drainage upgrading works at another 16 locations this year."
While climate change must be tackled at regional and global platforms, Mr Masagos stressed that Singapore must do its part to transform its economy towards a low carbon future.
He cited the carbon tax which takes effect this year, and efforts to manage vehicular emissions.
He also noted that national water agency PUB is studying the deployment of floating solar photovoltaic systems at four reservoirs.
Singapore will also continue to invest in its climate science capabilities, said the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.
“Agencies are developing a national framework for coastal protection and studying long-term plans to protect vulnerable coastal areas from sea level rise,” the ministry said. “We will continue to invest in research and build up our climate science capabilities.”
The Centre for Climate Research (CCRS) was established in 2013 under the Meteorological Services Singapore to develop research expertise in the weather and climate of Singapore and the Southeast Asian region.
"We are stepping up investment to build capability in CCRS and the local scientific community," Mr Masagos said.
According to the Ecosperity report, Singapore has in the last few years implemented multiple policies on rising sea levels – mainly focused on climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. It said there was “immense opportunity” for Singapore to develop local expertise to tackle the issue.
The report suggested deepening the local knowledge base, encouraging private sector investment in research and developing Singapore as an Asian climate change hub to encourage innovation and international collaboration.