More than 167,000 hectares of coastland — about 0.6% of the country’s total area — are projected to go underwater in the Philippines, especially in low-lying island communities, according to research by the University of the Philippines.
Low-lying countries with an abundance of coastlines are at significant risk from rising sea levels resulting from global warming. According to data by the World Meteorological Organisation, the water levels around the Philippines are rising at a rate almost three times the global average due partly to the influence of the trade winds pushing ocean currents.
On average, sea levels around the world rise 3.1 centimetres every ten years. Water levels in the Philippines are projected to rise between 7.6 and 10.2 centimetres each decade.
The Philippines government has been forced to take this into consideration. The Department of Environment and National Resources has its own climate change office, which has set up various programs to educate communities in high-risk areas. One program, for example, teaches communities to adapt to rising sea levels by ensuring that public spaces, such as community halls and schools, are not built near the coast.
Find your dream job in the space industry. Check our Space Job Board »
But soon, adaptation on a local level won’t be enough. Policy makers need to convince governments to curb their emissions on a global level.
Speaking at the CFCC conference in Paris, J.P. Gattuso, senior research scientist at France’s CNRS Laboratory of Oceanography in Villefranche, said the discussion of warming oceans rarely featured in previous climate change discussions.
But this is changing. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report 2013 indicated that if emissions continue on their current trend, we could face a “significant increase” in sea level extremes with risks of coastal flooding.
Published in October 2014, a study in Environmental Research Letters paints an even scarier picture. Sea levels could rise by a maximum of 190 centimetres (higher than the average person) by the end of the century. Low-lying coastal communities, such as in Bangladesh, could be most at risk.
Research in the journal Science released during the CFCC conference also emphasizes the importance that research address the effects of rising sea levels.