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9002: Climate Change and Water Resources
CE74.9002: CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER RESOURCES
OBSERVED CLIMATE CHANGE RELATED CHANGES IN SOUTH EAST ASIA
SUBMITTED BY SASWATA SANYAL (114353) DPMM, AIT
25TH FEBRUARY, 2013
CE74.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources
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)
2007) Rising sea levels could also reduce water quality and availability in coastal areas. would threaten many coastal regions’ freshwater supplies. Radical changes to the freshwater hydrology of coastal areas. A more dramatic increase in sea-level. on the order of meters rather than centimetres. (Grey et al. 2007) 4 . Recent projections of sea-level rise by the end of the 21st century range from 19 to 58 cm. Projected changes in annual run-off for 2090-2099 compared with 1980-1999 (Source: Kundzewicz et al. caused by salt-water intrusion.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources Map 2. complete melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet or West Antarctic Ice Sheet would trigger such a large rise. 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.CE74. For example. Rising sea levels could affect groundwater quality directly via salt-water intrusion. is possible. but most scientists consider it a low probability risk.
The region is projected to warm further. coastal degradation. floods.1–0. economic growth. development. 2009) 5 . and causing forest fires. Without global action. following the global trend.3°C per decade and sea level has risen at 1–3 millimetre (mm) each year over the last 50 years or so. and dependence upon natural resources. Malaysia. Cambodia.( Source: Yusuf et al. These countries have a diverse range of governments. Climate change is worsening water shortages.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 2. and Viet Nam. South East Asia’s average temperature has increased at a rate of 0. long coastlines. Multiple Climate Hazard Index based on the observed impacts of climate change. constraining agricultural production and threatening food security. religions. In the region of the nations of Thailand.CE74. and tropical cyclones in recent decades are also evidence that climate change is already affecting the region. and Indonesia are likely to suffer the most going by the observed impacts of climate change. but they all have a similar tropical maritime climate and face similar threats from climate change. Vietnam. and allocation of natural resources. Map 3. and greater health risks. abundant low-lying areas. the Philippines. become drier still in the coming decades in many parts. The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves. climate change is likely to intensify in the decades to come. populations. droughts. reliance on the agricultural sector. and experience further rises in sea level. The region also experienced a downward trend in precipitation during 1960–2000. Singapore. 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. particularly in Indonesia. Laos. Thailand.
Shows the vulnerable regions towards the impact of climate change in the region). Vulnerable regions towards the impacts of climate change.CE74. (Mendelsohn. The table below summarises some of the observed impacts of climate change on water resources in South East Asia. Summary of Observed Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources Sector in South-East Asia (ADB. in terms of increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. declining crop yields. increased outbreaks of diseases and the associated economic losses and human suffering. 2009) South East Asia is likely to suffer more from climate change than the global average (map 4. damage to coastal resources. Table 1. 2009) 6 .9002: Climate Change and Water Resources Map 4. ( Source: Yusuf et al. 2005) The region therefore has a high stake in taking action against climate change. loss of rich forests.
Observed changes in temperature resulting from Climate Change. with a general trend towards decreasing rainfall until 2000 (Graph 2) and a declining number of rainy days. 7 . Country-specific information detailing temperature rise due to climate change is provided in Table 2 below. South East Asia’s precipitation patterns changed inter-seasonally and inter-annually. There have been great changes throughout South East Asia in the subject of precipitation. The average temperature in South East Asia has increased 0. Observed deviations from mean precipitation in South.3 C per decade over the last 50 years. 2007) The following table shows the country wise deviation from mean precipitation due to the impact of climate change.1.CE74.2. Graph 2. Table 2.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 2. During the second half of the last century. Observed Temperature Changes in South-East Asia 2. There is also evidence that temperature increases became more noticeable in recent years compared to the first half of the 20th 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.East Asia (Source: IPCC. Observed changes in precipitation resulting from Climate Change.1–0.
with 21 8 . an increase in the number of hot days and warm nights. This has resulted in drought like condition in many parts of the region. There also has been a significant increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in the region from 1900 to 2005. Extreme weather events in South East Asia have risen considerably in the past several decades. There has been reported changes in temperature extremes such as heat waves. tropical storms. consistent with a general warming.CE74. Observed Soil Moisture % change in the world from the year 2000-2009 (Source: Open source) 2. In 2004. 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. the number of tropical depressions. From the following map. but to increase by the end of the century. Map 5. Further. with strong change expected between March and May.3 Observed extreme weather event as an impact of climate change in 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. Observed Changes in Precipitation in South-East Asia Under the A1FI scenario. precipitation in South East Asia is projected to decrease in the first half of the century.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources Table 3. and a decrease in the number of cold days and cold nights in South East Asia since 1950. and typhoons reported in the region reached an all-time high. 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.
well above the median of 17. for instance. 2007).CE74. Observed damages due to Climate Change induced Floods and Storms in South-East Asia (Source: ADB. and human life (Graph 2. The changes are summarized in Table 4. 2009) 9 . These extreme events.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources reported typhoons. causing extensive damage to property.) Table 4. Observed Extreme Events and Sever Climate Anomalies in South-East Asia Graph 2. assets. have led to massive flooding and landslides in many parts of the region.5 for the period 1990— 2003 (IPCC.
Sea level rise 5-m inundation zone. 2007).4 Observed changes in sea level in the region.(IPCC. with the rate of increase accelerating in more recent years relative to the long-term average. At the upper end of observations are those highlighting a rise of 3. 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. Map 6. 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). 2009) 10 .CE74. marginally higher than the global average. 2007) Table 5.4 mm per year averaged over the entire 20 th century. which will likely increase the loss of small islands(IPCC. There have been several studies reporting rises in sea level.( Source: Yusuf et al.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 2. Sea levels have also risen in South East Asia in the last few decades between 1 to 3 mm per year on average.1 mm per year over the past decade compared to 1.
ENSO effect on two location of Java. 2001) Graph 3. Indonesia during La Nina and El Nino Years. 1999) The graph above is an example of changes in Volume of Water in Reservoirs in two locations in Java.9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 2. and property. the events have become more frequent and have caused extensive loss in livelihoods. causing damage to crops. Observed impacts of ENSO in the region Water stress has increased in South East Asia. shortages of drinking water. Indonesia on percentage change in volume of water (Source: Las et al. La Nina is associated with heavy rains and tropical cyclones have resulted in massive flooding in major rivers in South East Asia. but also from decreasing precipitation and increasing temperatures usually associated with ENSO. In recent years. human life. South East Asia’s water resources have come under increasing strain not only from rapid population and industrial growth.(Glantz. particularly during El Nino years.CE74.5. and a drop in electricity production. . 11 . The ENSO events have increased water inadequacies in areas already under water stress.
Rising sea levels cause intrusion of salty water into freshwater resources and aquifers. which in turn affect the quantity of water for storage.CE74. 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. the rate of evaporation and transpiration is increasing. the La Nina years bring heavy and intense rainfall. which aggravate the water shortage in some parts of the region. With an increase in temperature. Sedimentation reduces the capacity of water reservoirs to store water for future use. Erratic precipitation patterns cause irregular stream flows in rivers. which results in excessive run-off and water flows that cause severe erosion of river banks and sedimentation of transported soils in water reservoirs. Therefore the observed impacts state that the situation of South East Asia is quite grave in relation to water resources. This in turn affects the quantity and quality of water available for agricultural production and human consumption. Conclusion The observed impact of climate change on water resources in Southeast Asia as described in the earlier sections. While El Nino years bring reduced stream flows. will lead great amount of complications in the water sector of South East Asia. and irrigation. power generation. 12 .9002: Climate Change and Water Resources 3.
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