CHENNAI: The Indian Ocean is witnessing a greater sea level rise than the global average, said Sailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, while addressing a gathering at a seminar in Satyabhama University on Thursday. The global sea levels had recorded an increase of 1.8mm a year as on 2003. However, the reason for this change in pattern at the Indian Ocean is not known, he said.
However, pointing out to various case studies, Nayak said that there was evidence of certain species showing adaptation to warmer temperatures. “Coral reefs have shown extensive bleaching in 1998 and 2010. But interestingly, after the bleaching in 1998, many corals reproduced which became resistant to the effects of bleaching later in 2010,” he said. “However, there is a need to further study if this is an adaptation or due to some other reasons.” The ministry has developed and employed an alert system this year to give warnings if bleaching is happening.
Nayak also stressed on the need to build a climate service similar to the weather service to understand and adapt to effects of climate change. “For instance, flooding induced migration is witnessed along some areas in Indian and Pacific oceans. The pattern of movement of these people need to be studied to understand the adaptation techniques prevalent among locals and development of more efficient techniques.”
“There is also a need to build climate resilient infrastructure by improving our risk assessments,” he said. “The T-3 terminal in Delhi built last year was flooded this year after the rains. This is because the highest rainfall over the last 10 years was received last year at 98mm, only to be exceeded this year to 107mm. Hence, we need to analyse the data of about 100 years to build climate resilient infrastructures,” he said.
J Boone Kauffman, Professor at Oregon State University, present at the event, explained the value of mangroves in carbon fixing. “On an average, the mangroves across the world covering not more than 1 per cent of the area deliver ecosystem services worth 200,000 to 900,000 US Dollars,” he said. “But mangroves are disappearing at the rate of 1-2 per cent every year primarily due to new infrastructure,” he added. “Preservation of mangroves should be considered as investment in the country’s infrastructure to protect them from damage.”