$25m boost for research on marine climate change

Govt funding will help programme address issues like sea-level rise, rising sea temperatures

Restoration of the shoreline at Pasir Ris Park this month. A research programme led by the National Parks Board will identify solutions to protect coastal regions against sea-level rise.
Restoration of the shoreline at Pasir Ris Park this month. A research programme led by the National Parks Board will identify solutions to protect coastal regions against sea-level rise. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Marine climate change science (MCCS) in Singapore has been given a $25 million boost to address problems like rising sea levels, increasing sea surface temperatures and extreme storm events.

The government funding will go to a research programme led by the National Parks Board (NParks) which involves government agencies, research institutes and industry partners.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee announced the programme yesterday at Urban Sustainability R&D e-Symposia 2021, in the first of a series of webinars that will take place over a year.

Because of Covid-19, the series is being held in place of the biennial Urban Solutions and Sustainability R&D Congress, which brings together the research community, government agencies and industry partners. The multidisciplinary MCCS programme's research efforts will focus on three areas: ecological resilience, eco-engineering and blue carbon.

1. ECOLOGICAL RESILIENCE

Research on the impact of climate change on marine species, habitats, ecosystems and connectivity will help shape measures to enhance marine ecosystem resilience.

This will aid in safeguarding natural marine capital through science-based approaches.

2. ECO-ENGINEERING

Research will identify sustainable engineering measures and nature-based solutions such as creating marine habitats, in order to protect coastal regions against sea-level rise and extreme storm events.

3. BLUE CARBON

Research will focus on developing a marine carbon credits economy in Singapore for trading, which essentially treats carbon as a commodity.

On top of these three areas, the MCCS programme also aims to develop models for projecting how climate change may alter existing biogeochemical processes in Singapore's marine environment, said NParks.

Funding for the programme comes from the $25 billion set aside under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 plan which was announced by the National Research Foundation last December.

The entire sum has been devoted to researching four main areas from this year to 2025.

Apart from urban solutions and sustainability, which was the focus of yesterday's webinar, the other three pillars are manufacturing, trade and connectivity, human health and potential, and Smart Nation and digital economy.

Other projects announced by Mr Lee yesterday include studies on reducing energy consumption and the waste footprint of desalination, as well as the incorporation of social sciences into city planning.

In what was called a "first of its kind" project by the minister, a multidisciplinary, multi-institute team - led by Nanyang Technological University - has been awarded close to $2 million to study the built environment's impact on resident well-being.

This will be done by combining social science knowledge with big data and analytics, noted Mr Lee.

The team aims to identify emerging social trends, gaps in research and further understanding of societal shifts to develop solutions to improve city planning and design.

"We aspire to build a city that not only meets our physical needs, but that also enables us to forge strong relationships and deep emotional connections" with one another, said Mr Lee.

National water agency PUB has also awarded close to $11 million to six projects to study new technologies to reduce energy consumption and the waste footprint of desalination.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2021, with the headline '$25m boost for research on marine climate change'. Subscribe