SEA LEVEL RISE IN MALAYSIA
By Nur Amira binti Abd Aziz Although the global prediction for sea level rise is about 1.7 – 3.1 mm/year, the regional sea level rise in Malaysia is expected to be higher, owing to local climate and topographical conditions. Low lying areas with high population and socio-economic activities are at risk of being inundated. Malaysia has a long shoreline with most of the cities located near the coast, and NAHRIM has carried out a number of studies as our preparation to face global warming issues in terms of projections for sea level rise in Malaysia. The sea level change along the Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah–Sarawak coastlines for the 21st century is investigated along the coastal areas of Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah–Sarawak because of the expected climate change during the 21st century. The spatial variation of the sea level change is estimated by assimilating the global mean sea level projections from the Atmosphere–Ocean coupled Global Climate Model/General Circulation Model (AOGCM) simulations to the satellite altimeter observations along the subject coastlines. Using the assimilated AOGCM projections, the sea level around the Peninsular Malaysia coastline is projected to rise with a mean in the range of 0.066 to 0.141 m in 2040 and 0.253 m to 0.517 m in 2100. Similarly, sea level around Sabah–Sarawak coastlines is projected to rise with a mean in the range of 0.115 m to 0.291 m in 2040 and 0.432 m to 1.064 m in 2100.
Sea Level Rise Projection in Malaysia Tableau-viz
Until quite recently, climate change and global warming were foreign words to us. However, thanks to climate change scientists from all over the world and their research findings, some of us are now more aware that global daily temperature is increasing, and these phenomena are believed to be the reason why natural disasters such as floods, droughts, landslides, hurricanes and storm surges are more frequent than previously. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 1995) reported that the global mean surface air temperature has increased by 0.5°C in the 20th century and is projected to increase further in this century, i.e. between 1.5 to 4.5°C. These temperature changes will have many negative effects, including greater frequency of heat waves; increased intensity of rain events and storms, floods and droughts; rising sea levels; a more rapid spread of disease; rising number of natural disasters and casualties due to landslides and loss of biodiversity. Rising sea levels also pose a particular threat to countries with high population and socioeconomic activities in the coastal regions. Three main factors contributing to the rising seas are: ocean thermal expansion; melting of the Greenland and Antarctica glacier and ice sheets; and changes in terrestrial storage, with ocean thermal expansion as the dominant factor. However, new data on rates of deglaciation in Greenland and Antarctica suggest greater significance for glacial melt, and a possible revision of the upper-bound estimate for SLR in this century. Since the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contain enough water to raise the sea level by almost 70 m, small changes in their volume would have a significant effect.
Projection of Sea Level Rise in Malaysia
The Study of the Impact of Climate Change on Sea Level Rise in Malaysia (NAHRIM, 2010) was carried out in 2010, to project SLR in the Malaysian coast for the year 2100. Using linear trend analysis, satellite altimetry data (1993 – 2010) from stations around Malaysia were analyzed to obtain the rate of SLR for Malaysia. In Sabah, the projected SLR for the year 2100 is 0.69 – 1.06 m with the maximum value occurring in low-lying areas, river mouths and estuaries in the East coast (Tawau, Semporna, Lahad Datu, Sandakan and Kudat). Of all stations in Sabah, the sea level rise at Perairan Tawau is expected to rise the most.
Impacts and Adaptation Measures
Climate change and sea level rise can give rise to high impacts such as destruction of assets and disruption to economic sectors, loss of human lives, mental health effects, or loss on plants, animals, and ecosystem and their severity depends on their extremes, exposure and vulnerability. Sea level rise may reduce the size of an island or state and its’ infrastructure i.e. airports, roads, and capital cities, which normally predominate in the coastal areas; worsen inundation, erosion, and other coastal hazards; threaten vital infrastructure, settlements, and facilities; and thus compromise the socio-economic wellbeing of the island communities and states. Warming of the ocean surface will give impacts to the biodiversity and the growth rates of species that are sensitive to temperature such as corals. They reported that damage to structures, infrastructure, and crops during tropical cyclones and water shortage are the main impacts from climatic extremes in the tropical regions. On atolls, storm surges, high wave events and ‘king’ tides would bring a serious problem of salinization of the freshwater. Therefore, awareness, improved governance, proper development and preparedness are very important in coping with climate change impacts in developing countries.
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