Climate Change Impacts

The regional climate projections conclude that annual rainfall is likely to increase in the northern Indian Ocean and will include the Maldives. The climate of the Indian Ocean is heavily influenced by Asian Monsoons. “The wet season in the Maldives occurs during the southwest monsoons.” (IPCC 11.9.1.2) These monsoons recur each year but are variable to change as far as the time scales based on how the ocean responds to them. Scenarios for temperature change and precipitation change have been simulated using climate models. These models predict a 100% probability for warm seasons while the precipitation changes are far less extreme.

The above figure can be found at http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-11-22.html

The graph shows that the temperature increase for small islands is less than for continents.

Models suggest that the mean annual temperature in the Indian Ocean is projected to increase by about 2.1 degrees C, which is a bit below the global average. Each of the models show a temperature increase in each of the months without much seasonal variation. Much of the models predicting precipitation did not predict as much of an increase as the temperature models.

The above graph can be found by clicking the link: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-11-24.html

This shows precipitation increase, mostly for the Northern Indian ocean because the models predicting the increase gathered more data from that region. This prediction includes area especially within range of the Maldives. There is less confidence in these models but the areas with a bluish green color are the areas predicted to increase the most.

Small islands have characteristics which make them especially susceptible to climate change and rising sea level. Coastal conditions are expected to deteriorate effecting the fishing industry and tourism. Altered frequencies and extremeness of severe weather are likely to be effected through global warming, creating a larger rise in sea level. “Some large scale climate events have the potential to cause very large impacts, especially after the 21st century.” (IPCC, Magnitudes of Impact) Adaptation of all countries will be something that needs to happen to cope with the impacts that are to come and are inevitable from past carbon and fuel emissions. “Future vulnerability depends not only on climate change but also on development pathway.” (IPCC, Current knowledge about responding to climate change) In other words, countries all around the world need to adapt to deal with the harsh impacts that our changing climate will bring us. The Maldives will be effected greatly by this because they are an island nation and so much of their GDP is through fishing and tourism which will be effected most by sea level rise. People cannot visit if the islands are underwater.

“Small islands that are located in the tropics have characteristics which make them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, sea level rise, and extreme events.” (IPCC, Executive Summary) The IPCC has a very high confidence in this statement. Sea level rise is expected to effect facilities and infrastructure which are vital to the Maldives and other islands livelihood. There is a very high confidence that water resources of small islands including the Maldives are likely to be compromised under a majority of climate change scenarios. The effects of climate change on tourism are in high confidence and they will be negative for the most part. A rise in sea level and ocean water temperature will cause a faster erosion of beaches on the Maldives and other islands.

Studies have confirmed that there will be significant economic impacts as a result of climate change and sea  level rise. Island nations as a whole are vulnerable to this but particularly the Maldives because so much of their GDP depends on tourism. They are also vulnerable because they are at a low sea level and are in an area where monsoons occur which will only increase in severity. They are in the Northern Indian Ocean which is the area of the Indian Ocean that is predicted to have the largest increase in precipitation. Impacts could cause increased beach erosion as well as a shortage in water supply. They are also at an increased risk for vector-born diseases which will be a major turn off for tourists. The very significant part to the Maldives is that climate change and sea level rise will not necessarily have a negative impact on tourism of island nations as a whole, rather it will promote tourism to islands that are not in sub tropical regions and aren’t as susceptible to these conditions. Transport and communication interruption can also be a product of sea level rise. Coral reef bleaching is a major tourist attraction of many islands and that attraction is being compromised by climate change. The Maldives will need to take serious strides to protect their precious tourism assets which are vital for their economy. The livelihood of the Maldives depends on tourism and if the right precautions are not taken, many people will be out of jobs and more importantly the island chain as a whole is at major risk for serious damage and destruction from the increasing severity of the monsoon season.

Maldive’s Contribution to Climate Change

The graph above is called a Keeling Curve and it represents the the concentration in parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 1950 to 2012. The data used to make this graph can be found by clicking the link below.

ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_mm_mlo.txt

The graph above shows total fossil fuel emissions by country and how the data has increased for all but one country over time. The data used to make this graph can be found by clicking the link below.

http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_coun.html

When looking at the CO2 emissions graph we can see that all of the emissions from the Maldives comes from liquids. All other sources of possible emission are straight across at zero on the bottom of the graph. I find this odd that they do not at least emit gases.

The Maldives did not begin emitting CO2 until about 1975. (data for emissions only goes  back to 1971) However, emissions did not really take off until the early 90s, and from that point forward there has been a significant upward trend. At least in emissions of liquid CO2. I found in my research that tourism did not really blow up in the Maldives until about the mid 90s which was my best guess as to why significant emissions were not produced until then. On a side note, the Maldives are closing in on a $100 million tourist tax which would help reduce carbon emissions and potentially net them a large profit.

The per capita emission rate for the Maldives as of 2008 was 0.82 compared with 4.9 of the United States. We find that this is just 16% of what the United States emits. The Maldives have a much smaller population although they do get a lot of tourists, other forms of emissions other than liquid are not likely because it is a lesser developed country and does not have a substantial amount of automobiles and does not use a large amount of carbon gases.

The Maldives rank in at 111th in fossil fuel CO2 emissions rates of the countries of the world. The United States ranked 12th in the world which I was a bit surprised to see I thought it would have been higher because we do take a lot of heat for the amount we emit per person.

I feel that my countries rank is low compared to that of others, they only emit liquid forms of CO2, and they have not been emitting it for very long. I think that the $100 million tourist tax they are trying to put in place to lower CO2 emissions is nothing but a money maker for the country.

The Maldives emit so little fossil fuels that you cannot distinguish much of a number from the data on the graph. Their highest emission rate was in 2008 at 251 thousand metric tons of carbon but that is still too low of a number to be seen above the bottom of the X axis on the graph. That is surprising in its own way because they provide such a large tourist attraction yet do not hardly emit any fossil fuels.

The biggest emitter in 2008 of carbon dioxide was China with 1,917,621 thousand metric tons compared with the U.S. at 1,546,903.

While China emits more metric tons of carbon than the United States, they have over a billion more people than the U.S. Clearly the U.S. is more at fault with China considering we are not even that far off from emitting as much carbon as they do. If we had anywhere near the population of China then there would be some off the charts data as far as carbon emissions.

The sum of the emissions for the countries in the data set are in terms of thousand metric tons carbon and are as follows:

United States: 91,229,888

China: 31,793,558

India: 9,151,461

Italy: 5,364,817

Kenya: 80,124

Maldives: 2,741

As we can see from the data above, the United States is responsible for the most fossil fuel emissions from the year 1900 to 2008.

When we divide the sum of China’s emissions by the U.S. we get .34 meaning their emissions since 1900 are only 34% of what the U.S. emissions have been. When dividing India’s emissions since 1900 by the United States’ we find that India has only emitted 10% of what we have over that time period.

The time scale on the Keeling Curve is from just 1950 to 2012 where as the time scale for the global emissions of carbon runs from 1750 to 2010. The two graphs are not necessarily similar in shape because of the way that data points vary for carbon emissions although they both do have an upward trend from beginning to end. Carbon emissions are the amount of carbon in million metric tons that is being put into the atmosphere. The concentration is in ppm (parts per million) and it represents the parts of carbon per every million particles in the atmosphere.