The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) has completed a nine-month research into developing a model interpreting the future climatic change scenarios for the Maldives that can provide projections which can referred during national and local development planning.
RIMES, based in Bangkok, provides regional early warning services and capacity building to its member states in Africa and Asia – including Maldives- in the end-to-end early warning of tsunami and hydro-meteorological hazards.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Dr Govindarajalu Srinivasan, technical adviser-climate applications and research, who headed the research in Maldives, explained that “we tried to interpret the scenarios of future climate change for the Maldivian context”.
He noted that the existing global climate change models (GCMs) which are the most important tools to study climate change and make projections, do not provide descriptions for regional or local scale.
Therefore, he revealed that the GCMs were statistically downscaled, and prior reports addressing climate change concerns for Maldives were examined to “generate a high a resolution climate change scenario for Maldives”.
Analysis was also done to look at the extreme climate change risks for the Maldives, Dr Srinivasan added.
He also observed that 13 participants from the Maldives Meteorological Services (MMS) and the Environment Ministry were trained in the last leg of the project to analyse extreme climate events linked to temperature and rainfall changes.
State Minister for Housing and Environment Dr Mohamed Shareef added that the findings of the program and trainees’ recommendations will be used in the ministry’s decision making process.
Although the details on the findings of the research were not revealed to the press, Dr.Shareef added that the ministry has received an initial draft and a final report will be submitted by the RIMES soon, which will be publicised at a later date.
In a press statement issued on Thursday the ministry pointed out that the present findings also suggest that the sea level, sea surface temperature, rainfall and its variations pose future climate risks for Maldives.
“Future climate change scenarios inherently represent a set of likely climate futures. Sea Surface Temperature parameter inferred directly from GCMs show a steady increase in temperatures up to 2080, the statement reads.
However, the ministry noted that more focused research is recommended to understand the projected sea level changes and better observational network are required to characterize the unique climatological settings of the Maldives.
The project commissioned to RIMES is a component “Integrating Climate Change Risks into Resilient Island Planing in the Maldives”, 2010- 2014 – a government initiative which seeks to ensure that climate change risks are integrated into resilient island planning and that governments and communities are able to prioritize and implement climate change adaptation.
UNDP, a large contributor to the project, says that the most serious underlying driver of increasing vulnerability to climate change in the Maldives is the “absence of systematic adaptation planning and practice”.
“Climate change risks and long-term resilience are not adequately integrated into island land use planning or into coastal development and protection policies and practice, and past autonomous risk reduction efforts have sometimes had mal-adaptive effects” an entry on the UNDP website reads.
UNDP also highlights that small, low-lying atoll islands of Maldives are highly vulnerable to flooding and coastal erosion: “More than 44 percent of settlements, including 42 percent of the population, and more than 70 percent of all critical infrastructures are located within 100 meters of shoreline. Intensive rainfall, storm surges and swell waves are expected to be aggravated through sea level rise and climate change effects on weather patterns. This will compound underlying trends of increasing coastal erosion and pressure on scarce land resources, and increase physical vulnerability of island populations, infrastructure and livelihood assets.”