S'pore to get hotter, more extreme weather in future

S'pore to get hotter, more extreme weather in future

SINGAPORE at the end of this century is expected to be hotter, and have more extreme weather fluctuations.

Temperatures could soar to a blazing 36.7 deg C - up from the previous high of 36 deg C on March 26, 1998. And every single day between February and May - the period which now has the highest number of warm days - could exceed 34.1 deg C too.

The amount of rainfall during the year could swing wildly, with much more rain during the north- east monsoon from November to January, at about 439mm each month. Currently, the long-term average falls short of 300mm - from about 241.3mm in January to 288.1mm in December.

February, already the driest month of the year, could have far less rain - about 24mm or one- eighth of the long-term average.

These were some extreme climate projections outlined yesterday by the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS), provided that the world does nothing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and limit the effects of climate change.

Even if some action is taken, however, Singapore is still likely to become hotter and have more pronounced contrasts between the wetter and drier months, although the changes would mostly be on a smaller scale.

The CCRS, part of the Meteorological Service Singapore, developed the projections as part of Singapore's Second National Climate Change Study, which aims to prepare the nation for climate and weather changes up to the year 2100.

A landmark report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013 also projected higher temperatures and more extreme rainfall for Singapore and the surrounding region, although its global scope meant that the findings were not detailed enough for Singapore's use.

The CCRS worked with Britain's Met Office Hadley Centre - one of the world's leading climate change research centres - to use high-resolution climate models to project regional climate and sea level changes with finer spatial detail across the region, centred on Singapore.

Two scenarios were examined: if the world does nothing to act against climate change; and if some action is taken, resulting in annual global emissions peaking in the year 2050, and then falling.

All projected changes used the period of 1980 to 2009 as the baseline, as that was when Singapore started to collect more comprehensive data on rainfall.

The projections will be used to examine the changing climate's possible impact in areas such as water resources, drainage systems, biodiversity, greenery, infrastructure and buildings. The key findings from this are expected to be ready by the year end.

This, in turn, will guide government agencies in shaping the country's plans to adapt to the changing weather.

Said Mr Lim Zhi Yang, director of energy and climate policy at the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources: "One of the key takeaways from a policy- maker's point of view is that we can't afford not to do anything about (climate change)."

Commenting on the uncertainties and variations in the projections, he added: "As we put in place some plans, we will ensure that these plans will not overly constrain what future generations can do for themselves. We will put in place measures that will allow space for them to add on their own measures in future."

For Singaporeans, the Met Service said the findings mean that the unusually warm temperatures Singapore now experiences occasionally could become the norm.

It said in a statement: "Due to the high levels of humidity in Singapore, these projected rises in temperature will lead to increasing... discomfort and heat stress for those working outdoors."

zengkun@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 16, 2015.
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