Thursday, January 07, 2010

Rise in the level of Indian Ocean may spell disaster


Thiruvananthapuram: The mean sea level rise has already rung the warning bell for the Indian coastal zone. The secretary in the Union ministry for earth sciences, Dr Shailesh Nayak informed the audience of the 97th Indian Science Congress here on Tuesday that the Indian Ocean has risen by 9 mm in the period 2004-08.

“We will launch a satellite with French collaboration, next year to monitor sea level rise along India’s coast,” he said.

According to Dr Nayak, the annual sea level rise of Indian Ocean since 2004 was 1.8 mm. The erosion of the coasts of Lakshadweep Islands may be due to the sea level rise of the Indian Ocean. The water level of river Hotly has risen and ingress of saline water into the Sunderbans on the eastern coast has been noticed.

When questioned whether this was due to the effect of Tsunami of December 2004, he said : “This may be the cause. We are trying to find out.”

Experts across the world are concerned over the rise in global mean sea level. They say that the situation is primarily due to fast melting of glaciers on account of the warming effect of climate change.

He said that coral reef was destroyed on account of Tsunami and chlorophyll content has increase in the bay of Bengal following the Aila cyclone. Chlorophyll plays an important role in ocean’s biological productivity and their impact on climate. Hence studies are needed on how much phytoplankton the oceans contain, where they are located, how their distribution is changing with time and how much photosynthesis they perform, he said.

Land and ocean play an important role in influencing climate and weather variability. In this context, Dr Nayak said that the frequency of heavy precipitation has increased over most land areas consistent with warming. An increase in atmospheric water vapour has been noticed. Also more intense and longer droughts have been observed over wider areas since the 1970s, particularly in the tropical and subtropical regions.

He suggested improved monitoring of regional climate and understanding of the regional impact of climate change particularly on the monsoon system. He urged for raising allocation for atmospheric research.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Study Finds Harbors Not Prepared for Rising Sea Level to Come

By: Ambrosia Sarabia

From: The Log

SACRAMENTO -- The effects of global warming will be felt worldwide, scientists say -- and Southern California harbors will be hit especially hard by rising seas, according to a published report by the California State Lands Commission.

Photo by: Port of Los Angeles

In Harm’s Way? — The Port of Los Angeles’ breakwater may be overcome with powerful waves during a significant sea level rise. Officials are conducting a study to better prepare for the effects of global warming.

The paper, “A Report on Sea Level Rise Preparedness,” projects that sea levels will rise 16 inches by 2050 and 55 inches by 2100. Coastal communities from Santa Barbara to San Diego will be dramatically affected by the rising sea.

At the request of the commission, staff members conducted a survey to assess how ports have prepared for the rising water levels ahead. Of the 104 surveys sent to major ports and harbor districts, only 40 were returned. The consensus: Most ports are not prepared.

“The survey results confirm that the commission’s major grantees and lessees are just beginning to address the issue of sea level rise,” the report states.

Among the questions asked included how facilities will be affected by a sea level rise and what actions were being considered to address the rise.

According to a report by the California Climate Change Center, nearly one-half million people, thousands of miles of roads and railways, major ports, airports and power plants are at risk from a 100-year flood event as a result of a 55-inch rise in sea level.

OC Parks, which operates and maintains marina facilities at Newport Dunes and Sunset Aquatic Marina, as well as floating dock systems with bulkhead shore protection in Newport Beach, responded that many existing seawalls would be overtopped, an increase in flooding and erosion would be expected and a change in ecosystems would occur.

When asked how facilities would be affected by a 16-inch and 55-inch sea level rise, the city of Newport Beach responded that flooding may occur over most bulkheads. As for strategies to mitigate sea level rise impacts, the city reported that increasing seawall height might help.

“We certainly need to start thinking about that, and see what options there are for the city,” said Chris Miller, manager of the city of Newport Beach Harbor Resources division.

The city of Oceanside reported that no impact would likely occur with a 16-inch sea level rise, but there would possibly be some wave run-up with a 55-inch sea level rise. Santa Barbara anticipated that a rise of 55 inches would flood or inundate the entire area, destroying most facilities as currently constructed, according to the report.

The Port of San Diego responded that its facilities’ life spans are from 30-50 years and, while many of the facilities will not be greatly affected by a 16-inch sea level increase, a 55-inch rise would cause a substantial impact. As for future preparation, the port is preparing a Climate Action Plan, and its environmental review process includes the consideration of sea level rise.

The Port of Los Angeles reported that most of its facilities are designed for a 50-year life expectancy -- and it determined that possible flooding and wave damage would occur from a 55-inch rise in sea level. The port is planning a study to identify vulnerable facilities and will be identify sea level rise consideration in future design guidelines.

The port, which has been reviewing the topic for some time now, is in the process of moving forward with a study that will identify vulnerable facilities and develop a response team. The study is expected to be completed in the next six months, explained Phillip Sanfield, director of media relations for the Port of Los Angeles.

When identifying areas of concern if a sea level rise were to occur, the port’s breakwater causes some unease with port officials, as forceful waves may make the breakwater less efficient in protecting the port’s infrastructure. The port has been working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers -- the agency responsible for the breakwater -- to continually study the condition and integrity of the breakwater.

In terms of the replacement and construction of current and future wharfs, potential sea level rises will be taken into account.

“This is not something that we just tuck away in the file and not deal with,” Sanfield said. “We need to plan for sea level rise now so that we are not doing repair work in the short term.

The report is meant to advise the state on how to plan for future sea level rises and includes information on sea level projections, impacts on state infrastructures and future areas of research.

The report used research from Scripps Institution of Oceanography; the University of California, San Diego; U.S. Geological Survey; Santa Clara University; the California Department of Boating and Waterways; and the Hydrologic Research Center.

The report is available online at

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

12 Million Egyptians to be Affected by Climate Change


Mohamed Abdel Salam
  2 January 2010 in Egypt, Environment, News

Cairo: A study conducted by the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, commissioned by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development, warned that Egypt would be one of the Arab countries most affected by climate change. The study analyzed a variety of scenarios of climate change impact, particularly on coastal areas, based on satellite images of the region, and showed that Egypt would be the most affected Arab country due to a rise in sea levels. The study stated that, “at least 12 million Egyptians will be forces to migrate from their area of residence in parts of Nile Delta and that with a rise in sea level by 5 meters, almost one third of the total affected Arab population would be Egyptian.

The Study was prepared by Dr. Eman Ghoneim, a research professor at the Center for Remote Sensing and devoted a large portion of its findings to the impact of rising sea levels on the Nile Delta. The study warned, “under the scenarios of rising sea levels, much of the Nile Delta would be lost forever, and the analysis of remote sensing and geographic information system, classified some areas in the Nile Delta at risk if sea levels rise by one meter” The report estimated that a rise of one meter only could engulf much of the Nile Delta. With about one third of the Delta area underwater, some of its coastal cities, such as Alexandria, Edco, Port Said and Damietta, would be in great danger.In this scenario, it is estimated that about 8.5% of the country’s population (7 million) would be forces to migrate to other areas.

The study added, “In extreme case scenarios of a 5 meter sea levels rise, more than half of the Nile Delta (58%) will face devastating effects and 10 major cities would be threatened, including Alexandria, Damanhur, Kafr El-Sheikh, Damietta, Mansoura and Port Said. Rising water would drown productive plots of agricultural lands and force about 14% of the country’s population (11.5 million) to move to areas of the more densely populated areas south of the Nile Delta region.”

The study went on to say that, “the Nile Delta, which covers about 24,900 square kilometers, and accounts for about 65% of agricultural land in Egypt, was once the largest site for sediments deposits in the basin of the Mediterranean Sea. It is an extreme example of low, flat land located in an area that is  very vulnerable to rising sea levels.” The Delta is threatened due to accelerated erosion of the coastline and the establishment of the Aswan High Dam in 1962, which subsequently sequestered large amounts of sediment behind the dam in Lake Nasser.

The study showed that coastal erosion of the Delta as a result of natural causes and the extraction of groundwater can be seen in satellite images, especially near the coastal cities of Rosetta and Damietta. The analysis of satellite images shows that the Ras Rashid, “Rosetta”, lost almost 9.5 square kilometers of area. Likewise, the coastline retreated 3 km in the last 30 years (1972 to 2003), meaning that this part of the Delta declines at an alarming rate of about 100 meters in the year.

Study also discussed the consequences of climate change on the Arab region as a whole, including the impact of rising sea levels and its effects on the growth of cities, stating that the southern part of the Nile Delta is now suffering from uncontrolled population growth in the city of Cairo. The results also showed a loss of about 12% (62 square kilometers) of the agricultural areas adjacent to Cairo, between 1984 and 2002.