SINGAPORE - Singapore may feel the impact of climate change sooner than expected, with a new detailed study suggesting that the city will hit tipping point in as little as 15 years.
Come 2028, temperatures here could rise such that even the coolest years in Singapore would still be hotter than the hottest year now on record, say University of Hawaii researchers.
Data on Singapore's hottest year on record was not available at press time, although the National Environment Agency said the hottest single day occurred on March 26, 1998. That day, the mercury hit 36 deg C. That year was also one of the hottest, with an annual average temperature of 28.3 deg C. If projections hold, it would mean the record high will be beaten every year and almost guarantees more scorching days.
Assistant Professor Jason Cohen of the National University of Singapore, who specialises in climate change models, said the results drive home the importance of acting to curb emissions.
"The longer that action is delayed, the sooner this extreme set of conditions will come. Furthermore, these extreme conditions, at least for temperature, will have large impact on current infrastructure relating to Singapore's water, since they will change biodiversity and evaporation," he said.
And Singapore will not be the only one sweating. Kingston, Jamaica, will be off-the-charts hot in just 10 years. Mexico City will hit tipping point in 2031, Cairo in 2036, and eventually the whole world in 2047.
To arrive at their projections, researchers used weather observations, computer models and other data to calculate the point at which every year from 2047 will be warmer than the hottest year recorded over the last 150 years.
Study author Camilo Mora and his students divided the earth into a grid, with each cell representing 10 sq m. Averaging the results from 39 climate models, they calculated a date they called "climate departure" - the date after which all future years were predicted to be warmer than any year in the historical record for that spot.
The 2047 date for the whole world is based on continually increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gases. If the world manages to reduce its emissions that date would be pushed to as late as 2069, said Dr Mora.
"One can think of this year as a kind of threshold into a hot new world from which one never goes back," said Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who was not part of the study.
Dr Mora calculated that the last of the 265 cities to move into its new climate will be Anchorage, Alaska - in 2071. There is a five- year margin of error.
Unlike previous research, the study highlights the tropics - where temperature change has more impact - over the polar regions. His team found that by one measurement - ocean acidity - earth has already crossed the threshold into a new regime. That happened around 2008, with every year since then more acidic than the old record, according to study co-author Abby Frazier.
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