How the Merlion could be flooded by rising seas

According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea levels could rise by about 1m by 2100. PHOTO: ST DIGITAL

SINGAPORE - The Straits Times Through The Lens exhibition opened on Saturday (Jan 15) at the National Museum of Singapore.

The exhibition features some 200 visual and interactive journalism projects, including a simulation of how high sea levels could rise in Singapore, using the iconic Merlion statue to illustrate the impact.

The event comprises the ST Photo exhibition, which centres on climate change, and the World Press Photo exhibition, which showcases the winning works of photographers around the world. Admission to the event, which ends on Feb 6, is free.

The simulation on rising sea levels is among 45 visuals, videos and interactive projects by the ST newsroom that are on display.

It looks at projections by scientists and interprets what it could mean for Singapore, which is especially vulnerable to the threat of rising seas. About 30 per cent of its land is less than 5m above sea level.

Readers can see for themselves the potential impact on landmarks and places they are familiar with - if not enough is done to tackle climate change.

According to the latest report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea levels could rise by about 1m by 2100, if carbon emissions double by 2050.

If this were to happen, there could be more severe flash floods because a higher mean sea level could worsen the impact of heavy rain, high tides or other extreme sea-level events such as storm surges.

The outlook, however, could be more dire. A host of other factors, including coastal surges and extreme high tides, may further add to the rising sea levels. If these factors are taken into consideration, sea levels could even rise by as high as 4m to 5m by 2100, according to national water agency PUB.

This means that the Merlion could be partially submerged. Low-lying coastal areas, such as the City-East Coast stretch, could also potentially be flooded.

But such a nightmare scenario can be averted, with Singapore's ongoing efforts to fight climate change and protect its shores. As part of the project, readers can find out more about these measures, such as preserving mangroves and building seawalls.

Said ST digital editor Ong Hwee Hwee, who oversees the project: "Some may still think climate change is a distant threat. By helping readers visualise the potential impact of rising seas on places they are familiar with, we hope to bring home the message that it is something we must tackle now."

Patrons at Through The Lens 2022: The Straits Times Photo Exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore on Jan 15, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
The exhibition showcases prize-winning works from the World Press Photo competition and images and videos by Straits Times photojournalists. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
The exhibition will end on Feb 6. Admission is free. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Find out more about climate change and how it could affect you on the ST microsite here.