Expect more floods and extreme rainfall in Singapore: International climate report

SINGAPORE - Extreme rainfall events over wet tropical regions will very likely become more intense and frequent as the climate undergoes significant changes.

These climate science findings were released in Stockholm on Sept 27 by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They suggest significant changes in rainfall patterns and increased global sea-level rise by 2100.

IPPC, which is an international body by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), released its latest finding as part of the 5th assessment report entitled "Summary for Policymakers" (SPM): The Physical Science Basis. The 5th assessment report is expected to be finalised in 2014.

The SPM contains updated interpretations of past climate as well as projections of the future, which are consistent with those of the fourth assessment report, and show that the climate is undergoing significant change.

In a statement released by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Saturday, the Singapore Government said that it will contextualise the global findings from the latest report and study their impact on Singapore and its people.

It noted that continual efforts are being made to review and adjust plans as new knowledge and information on the effects of climate change become available.

According to the SPM, analyses have shown that more regions of the world are experiencing an increase in the number of intense events, and while a number of regions experienced decreases, there was no uniform pattern world-wide.

Rainfall

Singapore has experienced more frequent and intense short duration heavy rainfall over the past few decades, according to analysis by the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS).

There were ten days in 2012 which saw heavy rainfall of more than 70mm in an hour, as compared to the five days in 1980.

The annual maximum rainfall intensity in an hour also increased from 80mm in 1980 to 107mm in 2012.

The press statement by the NEA noted that current models are not able to scientifically pinpoint the cause of past rainfall changes in Singapore, due to a combination of factors such as global warming, natural climate variability and other effects. However, research is ongoing and advances could be made in the future.

Temperature fluctuations in Singapore the new norm

Temperatures that Singapore encounter occasionally could become the norm in the future, according to SPM.

NEA noted that more aggressive climate change may affect how Singaporeans carry out their day-to-day activities, and the way how future infrastructure is planned.

Singapore's approach

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change (IMCCC) was established in 2007 to enhance the coordination between government agencies on climate change policies, while the Resilience Working Group (RWG), an inter-agency platform under the IMCCC, studies Singapore's vulnerability to the effects of climate change and recommends long-term plans that ensure the nation's adaptation to future environmental changes.

NEA has also conducted Singapore first National Climate Change Study based on IPCC's 4th assessment report from 2007 to 2013, while the CCRS is collaborating with the UK Met Office, to project climate parameters in greater detail.

The results will help the Singapore government better understand the local impacts of climate change, eventually strengthening Singapore's climate resilience and adaptation plans.

grongloh@sph.com.sg

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