Published on: 08-May-2020
The SouthEast Asia SEA-level
program sets out to produce world class interdisciplinary sea-level science
focused on Southeast Asia and framed to promote resilient coastal cities and
communities in Singapore and the surrounding region.
The program, known as SEA2, is led by Prof Benjamin Horton (EOS/ASE) with Assoc Profs Emma Hill and
Prof Adam Switzer and Asst Profs Aron Meltzner and Asst Prof David Lallemant playing
important leading roles. The multi-disciplinary team includes experts from
ASE/EOS includes Assoc Prof Xianfeng Wang and Asst Prof Perrine Hamel and a
range of other collaborators from NTU, NUS and elsewhere. An important goal of
the program is to train a home-grown scientific community that can respond to
Singapore and Southeast Asia’s need for future sea-level projections and their
interpretation, that is both the scientific basis and its translation into
Tier 3 is the largest of NRF’s Academic Research Funds,
supporting high-impact, multidisciplinary research programs over five years.
SEA2 addresses the issue of rising sea levels, a global phenomenon
resulting from climate change, that is making coastal cities and infrastructure
vulnerable to flooding, coastal erosion, salinization of surface and ground
waters, and degradation of coastal habitats. But the process of sea-level rise
is not uniform, in fact it can vary significantly between places depending on
various factors including ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns,
gravitational and deformational effects of land ice mass changes (like melting
polar ice sheets), and tectonic (vertical) movements. This is why it is key to
have a regional sea-level program for predicting the impact of sea-level rise
in Southeast Asia, rather than relying on data from Europe and North America.
This comprehensive program will cover rates, mechanisms,
and geographic variability of sea-level change. Improved accuracy of future
projections of sea level rise and extreme sea level will come from
sophisticated modeling of instrumental, historical, and geological sea-level
datasets in Southeast Asia. The future projections will be extremely robust
thanks to the added consideration of vertical land movements combining space geodesy and numerical models. This will capture land
motions caused by anything from draining of peatland and groundwater extraction
to earthquakes and glacial cycles.
Historical records of sea-level fluctuations will be
extended beyond what is currently known using various geological proxies such
as cave deposits or coral microatolls. These records will help understand
dynamics of sea level fluctuation in response to climatic changes that may be
specific to Southeast Asia. The extent of extreme sea levels produced by storm
surges or tsunamis is a crucial part of future sea-level predictions and will
be modeled based on historical and tide gauge data.
Ultimately, all the science described above, and more, will
be used to quantify and forecast the potential impact of future sea-level rise
on coastal communities in Southeast Asia, based on simulations of local
vulnerability in different scenarios, where the role of natural infrastructure
for flood-risk reduction and other long-term adaptations will be considered.
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