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Climate Change and Migration in Asia Report

Climate Change and Migration in Asia Report

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06/30/2012

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Environmental hazards resulting from sea-level rise and associated storm surges will be a great
concern for low-lying areas in Southeast Asia (Yusuf and Francisco 2009). Areas identified as
being highly vulnerable include the Mekong, Red, and Irrawaddy river deltas, which already
experience regular cyclonic activity. Several mega cities in the region, including Manila, Jakarta,
and Bangkok, are situated at or close to sea level, and all are likely to be affected as seas rise.
Flooding in coastal areas is generally most intense when storm surges are associated with high
river flows.

Significant river flooding along the major river systems, including the Irrawaddy, Salween, Chao
Phraya, Mekong, and Red rivers, and local flooding on islands such as Sumatra, Java, and the
Philippines archipelago are all projected to become more frequent with increasing extreme
precipitation events. However, in association with low pressure systems and coastal storm
surges, the impacts of interacting river and coastal flooding are likely to be most significant.

Cyclonic activity is already significant, particularly in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao
PDR), the Philippines, and Viet Nam, and the intensity of this hazard may increase. There are
some significant concerns for the sustainability of natural resource management due to a
reduction in precipitation, or at least the reliability of rainfall, across large parts of Southeast
Asia. Early indications are that the onset of rainfall periods and rainfall events is becoming less
reliable, which has implications for agricultural production throughout the region.

Although beyond the scope of this study, high population densities heavily reliant on the
success of multiple-cropping systems in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Indochina could be of
significant concern. The quality of water supplies in delta areas is projected to be significantly
affected by the combined impacts of sea-level rise and reduced flows in some river systems
during the winter months. Water quality in the major deltas of the river systems described above
could thus be at risk of increasing salinization.

Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam are at greatest risk in Southeast Asia due to
sea-level rise and coastal flooding as a result of storm surges. The low-lying deltas along the
Mekong, Red, and Irrawaddy rivers are expected to be the most vulnerable to sea-level rise.
Cyclonic activity is expected to increase in the Philippines, Viet Nam, and Lao PDR in the future.
Climate change impacts, along with increased and unplanned urbanization, will threaten mega
cities such as Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam, Manila in the Philippines, Jakarta in Indonesia, and
Bangkok in Thailand.

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