Monday, January 25, 2010

Singapore needs to build capabilities in understanding climate change

Hetty Musfirah in Channel NewsAsia: Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim on Monday said that Singapore needs to build up capabilities in understanding climate change. This will help the country and the region be better prepared for the impact of climate change and its effect on weather systems.

Dr Yaacob was speaking to experts who are meeting in Singapore for the first time to discuss the impact of typhoons in Asia. The Asia Pacific Region is one of the most vulnerable areas to natural disasters, and Singapore has been part of a 14-member UN-ESCAP/World Meteorological Organisation Typhoon Committee since 1997.

Last year, more than 300 people died in the path of Typhoon Ketsana when it struck Southeast Asia. From 1950 to 2005, more than half of the worldwide deaths caused by natural disasters occurred in this region, and many of the deaths were typhoon-related. Wind storms and floods associated with typhoons accounted for 57 per cent or some US$33 billion of the economic losses in this region in the same period.

Singapore is spared such devastation due to its location, but Dr Yaacob said that there is still a need to be prepared. Typhoon Vemai, which struck in 2001 for example, brought on heavy rainfall, flash floods and even caused disruption to flights in Singapore.

Dr Yaacob said: "Typhoons are powerful ... and their influence can extend to hundreds and thousands of kilometres beyond, bringing in dry weather in one part and wet weather in another. "They can significantly affect the regional rainfall patterns. Our climate scientists in MSD (Meteorological Services Division) will therefore collaborate with experts in the region to better understand the relationships between climate change and typhoons."….

A 1994 CIA map of Singapore

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