Forum: Equatorial nations must overcompensate for rising sea levels

Breakwater structures at East Coast Park.
Breakwater structures at East Coast Park.PHOTO: SINGAPORE PRESS HOLDINGS

The faster-than-expected rise in sea levels comes as no surprise as we have witnessed the sea fill the roads in Nicoll Drive and Kallang in the past (Shoring up Singapore's coastlines as sea levels rise faster than expected, Oct 12).

Indeed, being at the Equator, Singapore is especially vulnerable to rising tides.

Much has been said about rising equatorial temperatures and inclement tropical weather causing thermal sea expansion and storm surges respectively.

However, with the Earth's surface at the Equator spinning at about 1,600kmh (faster than the speed of sound), centrifugal forces create a central bulge of water at the Earth's waistline, raising sea levels.

This massive bulge of water brings its own gravity to attract even more water towards the Equator, raising the sea levels even further.

An overflowing waistline gives greater purchase and hence offers a firmer grip to the powerful combined gravitational pulls of both the Sun and the Moon - leading to amplified spring tides.

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is already in the throes of such inundation; and there are plans to relocate the capital to Kalimantan.

Singapore has no option but to face climate change squarely. However, we have the means to plan ahead very carefully and astutely.

Singapore has no option but to face climate change squarely. However, we have the means to plan ahead very carefully and astutely.

Hence, given the unpredictable nature of climate change, prediction modelling for Singapore, and the equatorial regions, will likely need to be overcompensated for, in favour of a much higher sea-level rise compared with elsewhere.

Andrew Wee Kien Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'Equatorial nations must overcompensate for rising sea levels'. Print Edition | Subscribe