Climate Change 101

Climate change is here. It’s happening.

We are already experiencing some of the impacts of climate change such as intense rainfall and prolonged dry spells.

What is climate change?

Climate change is the large-scale, long-term shift in the earth’s weather patterns. It is caused by increasing levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the earth’s atmosphere.

2015 was the warmest year on record, with average temperatures reaching about 1°C above those in the pre-industrial era. Without additional efforts to reduce GHG emissions, temperatures could continue to rise to between 3.7°C and 4.8°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. In recent years, Singapore has seen bouts of high temperatures, intense thunderstorms leading to flash floods, dry spells, and the threat of rising sea levels. These can cause significant damage to homes, businesses and livelihoods globally.

As a low-lying, densely-populated tropical island city-state, we are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and variability.

Here are some examples of how Singapore is experiencing the effects of climate change and variability.

Warmer weather

Our annual mean temperature rose from 26.6°C in 1972 to 27.9°C in 2019. Singapore’s top 10 warmest years have all occurred in the past 25 years, and eight of them were recorded in this century.

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Dry Spell

13 Jan to 8 Feb 2014: Singapore experienced a record 27-day dry spell. Our desalination and NEWater plants had to operate near full capacity to meet our water needs.

Two years later in 2016, the prolonged dry period brought water levels at Linggiu Reservoir a the historic low of 20%.

Linggiu Reservoir
The hot spell in 2016 caused water levels in Linggiu Reservoir to fall to a historic low. This reservoir in Johor supplies half our water needs. Photo Credit: PUB, the national water agency

Plankton Bloom

2015: Hot weather caused a plankton bloom in the Johor Straits, resulting in mass fish deaths.

Heavy Rainfall

2010, 2011 and 2013: Heavy rainfall contributed to major flash flood events in these three years, resulting in significant damage.

rain.jpg

“Rain Rain Come Again”by Marvelous Kerala is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

While natural climate variability may have played a part in these recent events, extreme conditions are likely to become more intense and frequent due to climate change. It is therefore important for Singapore to prepare for climate change.

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