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Observed Climate Change Related Changes in South East Asia

Observed Climate Change Related Changes in South East Asia


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Published by Saswata Sanyal
Climate Change in South East Asia in general, with reference to impact in the regional scale
Climate Change in South East Asia in general, with reference to impact in the regional scale

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Published by: Saswata Sanyal on Jul 13, 2013
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9002: Climate Change and Water Resources






CE74.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources

1. Introduction

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change defines climate change as, “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”. Climate has been changing throughout the history of Earth, but the unprecedented rate at which the change is taking place post-industrial revolution is a matter of great concern. Variability and long term changes are a natural phenomenon but the influence made by human beings in terms of GHG (Greenhouse Gases) emissions has greatly accelerated the phenomenon. If this trend continues on the existing course, life on Earth will be inextricably altered.(IPCC, 2007) Earth is basically surrounded by a thin layer of mixed gases. The Greenhouse Gases namely CO 2, CH4, N2O, CFCS and O3, although less than 0.1% of the atmosphere volume, have a profound influence on Earth`s climate. These gases most prominently CO 2 and CH4, allow sunlight to penetrate, but also trap outgoing heat. A large quantity of heat, received in the tropics, is redistributed to higher latitudes by major atmospheric and oceanic currents. As already discussed during the past 150 years, human activities have led to an exponential growth in greenhouse gas emissions. These activities include extracting and burning fossilised carbon for fuel, forest clearing and burning, wetland rice cultivation, livestock rearing, solid waste land-filling and nitrogen fertilising of agriculture. The result has been major increase in concentrations of greenhouse gases, with consequent increase in the heat trapping ability of the atmosphere thus the temperature of the Earth. (US EPA, nd) In the following graph we can see the impacts of the increase in concentration of greenhouse gases.

Graph 1. Impacts of increase in GHGs in Earth’s Atmosphere from the year 1850-2000 (Source: IPCC 2007: WG1. AR4)

It is very evident from the above graph that there has been a steep increase in the Global average temperature in the last 150 years, mostly because of the aforementioned human influence. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes because of the rise in temperature as shown in the graph; oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are

CE74.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources

melting, and sea levels are rising. Rising global temperatures have also been accompanied by changes in weather and climate. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment. (US EPA, nd) Climate change that have important implications for water resources include increased evaporation rates, a higher proportion of precipitation received as rain, rather than snow, earlier and shorter runoff seasons, increased water temperatures, and decreased water quality in both inland and coastal areas. The physical and economic consequences of each of these effects are discussed below. Increased evaporation rates are expected to reduce water supplies in many regions. The greatest deficits are expected to occur in the summer, leading to decreased soil moisture levels and more frequent and severe agricultural drought. More frequent and severe droughts arising from climate change will have serious management implications for water resource users.

Map 1. Likely change to precipitation (left) and evaporation (right) with projected climate change by 2090-2100, compared with the 1980-1999 baseline (Source: Meehl et al, 2007)

Rising surface temperatures are expected to increase the proportion of winter precipitation received as rain, with a declining proportion arriving in the form of snow. Snow pack levels are also expected to form later in the winter, accumulate in smaller quantities, and melt earlier in the season, leading to reduced summer flows. Such shifts in the form and timing of precipitation and run-off, specifically in snow-fed basins, are likely to cause more frequent summer droughts.(JMP, 2008) Climate change is expected to impact water quality in both inland and coastal areas. Specifically, precipitation is anticipated to occur more frequently via high-intensity rainfall events, causing increased run-off and erosion. More sediments and chemical run-off will therefore be transported into streams and groundwater systems, impairing water quality. Water quality may be further impaired if decreases in water supply cause nutrients and contaminants to become more concentrated. Rising air and water temperatures will also impact water quality by increasing primary production, organic matter decomposition, and nutrient cycling rates in lakes and streams, resulting in lower dissolved oxygen levels. (JMP, 2008)

Therefore it can be safely said that climate change`s impact on water sector is one of the most significant of all impacts of climate change. on the order of meters rather than centimetres. caused by salt-water intrusion. but most scientists consider it a low probability risk. Rising sea levels could affect groundwater quality directly via salt-water intrusion. complete melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet or West Antarctic Ice Sheet would trigger such a large rise. would threaten many coastal regions’ freshwater supplies.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources Map 2. (Grey et al. Recent projections of sea-level rise by the end of the 21st century range from 19 to 58 cm. Radical changes to the freshwater hydrology of coastal areas. For example. is possible. Projected changes in annual run-off for 2090-2099 compared with 1980-1999 (Source: Kundzewicz et al. A more dramatic increase in sea-level.CE74. 2007) Rising sea levels could also reduce water quality and availability in coastal areas. 2007) 4 .

Laos. and dependence upon natural resources. Without global action. and causing forest fires. The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves. and allocation of natural resources. Malaysia.3°C per decade and sea level has risen at 1–3 millimetre (mm) each year over the last 50 years or so. Map 3. Singapore. Vietnam. and tropical cyclones in recent decades are also evidence that climate change is already affecting the region. coastal degradation. climate change is likely to intensify in the decades to come. Multiple Climate Hazard Index based on the observed impacts of climate change.1–0. the Philippines. particularly in Indonesia. constraining agricultural production and threatening food security.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 2. The region is projected to warm further.( Source: Yusuf et al. Impact of Climate Change in Water Sector of South East Asia South East Asia is at risk from the impact of climate change in the next 20 years due to the region’s large and growing population. These countries have a diverse range of governments. 2009) 5 . Climate change is worsening water shortages. religions. long coastlines. Thailand. populations. become drier still in the coming decades in many parts. abundant low-lying areas.CE74. and Indonesia are likely to suffer the most going by the observed impacts of climate change. following the global trend. South East Asia’s average temperature has increased at a rate of 0. In the region of the nations of Thailand. but they all have a similar tropical maritime climate and face similar threats from climate change. and experience further rises in sea level. The region also experienced a downward trend in precipitation during 1960–2000. Cambodia. economic growth. and Viet Nam. droughts. and greater health risks. floods. reliance on the agricultural sector. development.

Table 1. ( Source: Yusuf et al.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources Map 4. 2009) South East Asia is likely to suffer more from climate change than the global average (map 4. Vulnerable regions towards the impacts of climate change. damage to coastal resources. 2009) 6 . declining crop yields. Summary of Observed Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources Sector in South-East Asia (ADB. Shows the vulnerable regions towards the impact of climate change in the region). 2005) The region therefore has a high stake in taking action against climate change. in terms of increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.CE74. increased outbreaks of diseases and the associated economic losses and human suffering. (Mendelsohn. The table below summarises some of the observed impacts of climate change on water resources in South East Asia. loss of rich forests.

7 . Graph 2. Observed Temperature Changes in South-East Asia 2. There have been great changes throughout South East Asia in the subject of precipitation.East Asia (Source: IPCC. Country-specific information detailing temperature rise due to climate change is provided in Table 2 below. The average temperature in South East Asia has increased 0.1. with a general trend towards decreasing rainfall until 2000 (Graph 2) and a declining number of rainy days. Observed deviations from mean precipitation in South. South East Asia’s precipitation patterns changed inter-seasonally and inter-annually.1–0. During the second half of the last century. Other than Philippines in most other countries in the region there has been a considerable dip in annual rainfall over a period ranging from three to five decades. Observed changes in precipitation resulting from Climate Change.2. 2007) The following table shows the country wise deviation from mean precipitation due to the impact of climate change. There is also evidence that temperature increases became more noticeable in recent years compared to the first half of the 20th century.CE74.3 C per decade over the last 50 years. Observed changes in temperature resulting from Climate Change.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 2. Table 2.

3 Observed extreme weather event as an impact of climate change in the region. Observed Soil Moisture % change in the world from the year 2000-2009 (Source: Open source) 2. precipitation in South East Asia is projected to decrease in the first half of the century. There also has been a significant increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in the region from 1900 to 2005. consistent with a general warming. Due to this increase in temperature and decrease in precipitation there has been a steady decline in the soil moisture content in most countries in the region. and a decrease in the number of cold days and cold nights in South East Asia since 1950. There has been reported changes in temperature extremes such as heat waves. but to increase by the end of the century. tropical storms. Further. From the following map.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources Table 3. In 2004.CE74. an increase in the number of hot days and warm nights. the number of tropical depressions. Map 5. Extreme weather events in South East Asia have risen considerably in the past several decades. Observed Changes in Precipitation in South-East Asia Under the A1FI scenario. with 21 8 . which is a study of soil moisture from the year 2000-2009 we can see there have been considerable decrease in the percentage of soil moisture over this period. and typhoons reported in the region reached an all-time high. This has resulted in drought like condition in many parts of the region. the number of tropical cyclones recorded increased pronouncedly during the summer (July to August) and autumn (September to November) of strong ENSO years. with strong change expected between March and May.

The changes are summarized in Table 4. Observed damages due to Climate Change induced Floods and Storms in South-East Asia (Source: ADB.) Table 4. have led to massive flooding and landslides in many parts of the region. assets. for instance. Observed Extreme Events and Sever Climate Anomalies in South-East Asia Graph 2. 2009) 9 . 2007).CE74. well above the median of 17.5 for the period 1990— 2003 (IPCC. and human life (Graph 2. causing extensive damage to property. These extreme events.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources reported typhoons.

At the upper end of observations are those highlighting a rise of 3. Map 6. marginally higher than the global average. There have been several studies reporting rises in sea level.4 mm per year averaged over the entire 20 th century. Observed Changes in Sea Level in South-East Asia Sea levels are projected to rise 40 cm in South East Asia by 2100.7–2. Sea level rise 5-m inundation zone.( Source: Yusuf et al. 2007) Table 5. with the rate of increase accelerating in more recent years relative to the long-term average.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 2.CE74.4 Observed changes in sea level in the region. 2007). which will likely increase the loss of small islands(IPCC.(IPCC. The following map shows the areas vulnerable to sea level rise in the region in a 5 metre inundation zone. with the rate of increase varying by location (Table 5). Sea levels have also risen in South East Asia in the last few decades between 1 to 3 mm per year on average. 2009) 10 .1 mm per year over the past decade compared to 1.

1999) The graph above is an example of changes in Volume of Water in Reservoirs in two locations in Java. and a drop in electricity production. Observed impacts of ENSO in the region Water stress has increased in South East Asia. shortages of drinking water. particularly during El Nino years. 2001) Graph 3. . but also from decreasing precipitation and increasing temperatures usually associated with ENSO. South East Asia’s water resources have come under increasing strain not only from rapid population and industrial growth.CE74. The ENSO events have increased water inadequacies in areas already under water stress.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 2. ENSO effect on two location of Java. In recent years.5. human life. causing damage to crops. La Nina is associated with heavy rains and tropical cyclones have resulted in massive flooding in major rivers in South East Asia. Indonesia on percentage change in volume of water (Source: Las et al.(Glantz. and property. 11 . the events have become more frequent and have caused extensive loss in livelihoods. Indonesia during La Nina and El Nino Years.

and serious steps need to be taken in regards of planning and adaptation so that the complication regarding the water resources could be averted in the future. and irrigation. Erratic precipitation patterns cause irregular stream flows in rivers. Conclusion The observed impact of climate change on water resources in Southeast Asia as described in the earlier sections. Therefore the observed impacts state that the situation of South East Asia is quite grave in relation to water resources. power generation. With an increase in temperature.CE74. 12 .9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 3. the La Nina years bring heavy and intense rainfall. the rate of evaporation and transpiration is increasing. Sedimentation reduces the capacity of water reservoirs to store water for future use. which in turn affect the quantity of water for storage. This in turn affects the quantity and quality of water available for agricultural production and human consumption. will lead great amount of complications in the water sector of South East Asia. While El Nino years bring reduced stream flows. Rising sea levels cause intrusion of salty water into freshwater resources and aquifers. which aggravate the water shortage in some parts of the region. which results in excessive run-off and water flows that cause severe erosion of river banks and sedimentation of transported soils in water reservoirs.

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et al.W. Quezon City. Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. AARD. 2000: “Theory and Practice in Assessing Vulnerability to Climate Change and Facilitating Adaptation. Climatology and Agrometeorology Branch Publication on Tropical cyclones. (2001). Climate Change Impacts on Southeast Asian Agriculture. PAGASA. I. Philippine Atmospheric. T. S.” Climatic Change 47:325–52. P. J. Kundzewicz. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. JMP. Climatology and Agrometeorology Branch Technical Paper No. (2001). Documentation and Analysis of Impacts of and Responses to Extreme Climate Events. M. Contribution of Working Groups I and II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. et al . UK. Mendelsohn. (2005). et al. (2008). Las. Bogor. Perez. Climate Change 2007: Impacts.. N. Cambridge University Press. et al. Quezon City. Asian Development Bank. Yale University PAGASA. Analysis of Probability of Climate Variability and Water Availability in ‘300— Rice Cropping Intensity’. Report submitted for RETA 6427: A Regional Review of the Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia. Central Research for Soil and Agroclimatology. “Trends in Extreme Daily Rainfall and Temperature in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific (1961–1998). In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2007): Climate Change 2007. Adaptation and Vulnerability. Cambridge University Press. 173-210.. Manton M. USA. Thailand Country Report—A Regional Review on the Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia.” Climate Research Journal 12:97–107. 2001-2. NY. Cambridge. Philippine Atmospheric. Cambridge.(2007): Global Climate Projections. (2005).. “Climate Change Impacts and Responses in the Philippine Coastal Sector.A.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources IPCC. (2008). Global water supply and sanitation 2008 report. Kelly. Adger. Manila. R. Jesdapipat. G. 14 . Cambridge University Press Cambridge. Z. et al. World Health Organization: Geneva. Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.” International Journal of Climatolology 10(1002): 610. (2007): Freshwater resources and their management.CE74. and W. Meehl. Joint Monitoring Programme WHO/UNICEF. United Kingdom and New York. R. (1999). USA.. United Kingdom and New York. (1999). NY. Agriculture Research Management Project II Report..

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