National Sea Level Programme awards $2.7 million to research projects on sea level rise

The national study will update projections of Singapore's key climate variables including rainfall, temperature and sea level. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Two research projects looking into how coastal hazards - such as sea level rise - can affect Singapore have been awarded $2.7 million in grant funding under the National Sea Level Programme.

The $10 million research programme was launched in 2019. The first two projects to receive funding from it are led by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) experts Benjamin Horton and Adam Switzer, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Thursday (Nov 5).

Their findings will help plug knowledge gaps in determining the factors behind local and regional sea level rise and variability, said the NEA, and will contribute to the third national climate change study due in 2022.

The national study will update projections of Singapore's key climate variables including rainfall, temperature and sea level, and help the Republic better prepare for the impact of climate change.

Professor Horton and his team will look into why and how sea levels in the region have changed, through various methods including the study of natural ecosystems such as mangroves and coral microatolls.

Statistical modelling approaches will also be used to quantify the driving mechanisms of sea-level change that will inform future sea level projections.

The project led by Associate Professor Switzer focuses on extreme sea level events that pose flooding risks in the region. Such events are driven by temporary sea level highs, which can be caused by storm surges and tsunamis.

Prof Switzer's team will also conduct a pilot study on an extreme sea level warning system and monitoring network using floating global navigation satellite system buoys, said NEA.

The National Sea Level Programme and other research grant programmes will be helmed by the new Climate Science Research Programme Office, which the NEA also launched on Thursday (Nov 5).

The programme office is set up under the Centre for Climate Research Singapore - the research division of NEA's Meteorological Service Singapore.

It will coordinate the development of climate science research and development capabilities across the local research community through the formulation and implementation of a national climate science research masterplan.

"This will help to align climate research areas to our national needs and priorities," said the NEA on the research masterplan.

Five key research areas have been identified.

They include: sea level rise, water resources and flood management, food security and biodiversity, human health, and the energy sector.

Professor Dale Barker, director for the NEA's Centre for Climate Research Singapore, said that policy decisions about how the Republic can adapt to the "climate emergency" should be supported by robust science.

To this end, the new programme office will help coordinate climate science research that underpins the nation's understanding of climate change and its impact.

Said Prof Barker: "The National Sea Level Programme will improve our scientific understanding of sea level rise affecting Singapore and the surrounding region, which would inform our agencies' efforts to defend our coastlines from the impact of sea level rise."

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