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.

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