Singapore is hotter than before

Average temperature last year was 27.5 deg C, 0.6 deg C higher than average for last 50 years
Amresh Gunasingham, Straits Times 3 Jan 09;

SINGAPORE is getting hotter - and has been doing so at a faster rate over the last two decades.

Last year's average temperature of 27.5 deg C, was 0.6 deg C higher than the average temperature over the last 50 years of 26.9 deg C, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).

From 1951 to 1979, average temperature levels were below this long-term average. But since 1983, they have been on the rise, hovering between 0.1 deg C and 0.6 deg C above the long-term mean.

The NEA said it was difficult to determine how much of the upward trend was due to global warming and how much to Singapore's rapid development and urbanisation over the past 30 years.

'But the trend is consistent with rising global temperature levels,' a spokesman added.

Experts told The Straits Times that the increase is slightly larger in Singapore than in the global average, probably as a result of Singapore being more vulnerable to global emissions.

Its own contribution to global carbon dioxide emissions as a result of economic activity in 2006 was 41.6 megatonnes, less than 0.2 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

A warming world could have a devastating impact throughout the globe, and on Singapore.

Associated with rising temperature levels are ice loss from glaciers and the melting of polar ice caps, said experts.

'This leads to an increase in fresh water levels, which in turn will lead to rising sea levels,' said Associate Professor Ho Juay Choy, principle fellow at the Energy Studies Institute (ESI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Singapore could suffer from the rising sea levels because of its small land size and flat terrain.

'The increased probability of flooding and coastal erosion as well as saltwater intrusion into fresh water reservoirs are some of the possible consequences,' said Associate Professor Matthias Roth of the department of geography at NUS.

Previous reports say that a metre-high rise in sea level is enough for several areas around the island to be submerged.

'But our data, based on a measurement of maximum tide levels, show no clear rise in sea level in Singapore over the last 12 years,' said Prof Ho.

These findings will be part of a country report for Singapore on the Regional Review of the Economics of Climate Change for South-east Asia.

The report is being prepared for the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Global warming also increases the likelihood of extreme weather such as storms, floods and droughts, which could devastate agricultural economies throughout the world.

For example, current rates of global warming mean that the Himalayan glaciers could experience rapid decay by 2030.

'This will affect the water supply of major rivers in South-east Asia, putting the availability of fresh water at risk,' said Prof Roth.

Droughts are also predicted to hit several parts of Australia.

As the focus turns to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Singapore has also made a conscious effort to improve energy efficiency by using less carbon-intensive energy sources for power generation.

Singapore's carbon intensity - which measures the ratio of carbon emissions to economic activity - has improved from 0.28 kt/$m (kilotonnes/million GDP) in 1990 to 0.20 kt/$m in 2006.

'This is a direct result of Singapore's efforts to switch from fuel oil to natural gas for power generation and initiatives aimed at improving energy efficiency in various sectors of the economy,' said Prof Ho.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Singapore's carbon intensity levels are below the world average.