13 October 2011

Sea level rise and Singapore's response

For the first time, it was mentioned that Singapore "will need to raise minimum levels for land reclamation by at least 1m to create an adequate buffer against a potential rise in sea level". This, according to the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR).
Reclamation at Pasir Panjang port
In Mar 2010, a Singapore study revealed that sea levels could rise by between 24 and 65cm by 2100. At that time, the Ministry said existing regulations were sufficient. These included a requirement since the early 1990's for reclaimed land to be built at a height of 125cm above the highest measured tidal level, as a buffer against rising sea levels.

Why are rising sea levels a concern for Singapore?
Rising sea levels could flood key economic areas which lie less than 2m above sea level. These include Changi airport, the Central Business District, Marina Bay, Jurong Island, the Western coastline where our container and shipping facilities are located and Semakau Landfill. High value areas like Sentosa Cove are also at risk.

Rising seas will also threaten Singapore's coastal reservoirs, such as Kranji, Sarimbun and Seletar. Salt water entering these reservoirs will make the water undrinkable. It can take up to two years for the sea water to be flushed out completely by rainwater.

With rising seas, key petrochemical, shipping and shipbuilding facilities on the West Coast could be vulnerable to wave attacks because of seasonal thunderstorms called 'the Sumatras'. The morning storms we have recently been experiencing is due to the Sumatras. These have uprooted tall trees all across Singapore.

Besides rising seas, climate change may also force Singapore to cope with higher rainfall. This month, the expert panel examining Singapore's flood protection measures said that "rainfall patterns seem to have changed" with "evidence that the maximum intensities have increased over the past 30 years."

Are there many reclamation projects going on in Singapore?
There are many massive projects ongoing. These include those at Tuas, Jurong Island, Pasir PanjangPulau Tekong. With plans for new reclamation at Jurong Island, possibly the East Coast as well.
Massive reclamation for Pasir Panjang Container Terminal off Labrador
Massive reclamation next to Labrador Nature Reserve.

Where will the sand for our reclamation come from?
From a wide range of countries it seems. Just today, it was reported that sand dredged in the Philippines will be sold to Singapore. More about the issue of sand exports to Singapore.

Full media articles on wildsingapore news.

From the MEWR website Addendum to the President's Address:

(III) Building capabilities

10 Working with the National Climate Change Secretariat, the Ministry and its partner agencies are committed to enhancing Singapore’s resilience against the potential impacts of climate change. Based on preliminary studies, we will need to raise minimum levels for land reclamation by at least 1m to create an adequate buffer against a potential rise in sea level.

11 However, achieving resilience is not a once-off effort. Climate science is dynamic and climate conditions in our region are challenging to forecast. To improve our understanding of future localised climatic conditions, we will develop capabilities in climate science and modelling within the Government. We will also form networks with relevant experts and institutions at the forefront of climate research.

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