Worrying climate change impact highlighted at forum

James Kon

The sea temperature are increasing at the rate of 0.13 degree Celsius every 10 years, leading to ocean warming.

Satellite images have shown the receding ice glacier where Green land as one of the most important ice sheet in the world is receding seven times faster than it used to be. Due to this, the sea level is rising at a very fast pace of 3.6 milimetres per year, the fastest rate this century.

If the current rate of warming continues, the sea level rise will put more than 800 million people at risk by 2050.

The worrying impact of climate change on ocean was highlighted by Head of Brunei Climate Change Secretariat Noor Dina Zharina binti Haji Yahya in her presentation on Climate Change Impact & Reef Check yesterday at the Decommissioning and Restoration Forum held in conjunction with the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition (MYCE) 2021 at the Musyawarah Hall, International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas.

“An increase of 1.5 degree is the threshold. If we exceed the normal temperature beyond 1.5 degrees, the world will not be inhabitable. It is important that we can do all we can to reduce greenhouse emissions,” she added.

The ocean, she highlighted “is very important in absorbing about 90 per cent of excess heat trapped in the atmosphere and 25 per cent of carbon emission in the atmosphere. Tiny marine micro algae in the ocean absorb four times the amount of CO2 than the Amazon forest.”

Ocean has buffered us from the worst impact of climate change but at the cost of causing significant harm to marine ecosystems, she added.

Head of Brunei Climate Change Secretariat Noor Dina Zharina binti Haji Yahya shows the topography on the impact of rising sea level in Kampong Ayer. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“The impact of climate change will cause a rise in sea level, bleaching of coral reef, more frequent toxic algae blooms, while lower oxygen level in ocean will suffocate some marine animals and acidic water will harm animals that build shells.

“We have already seen sea level rise to two centimetres, and if we don’t do anything, our temperature will continue to increase the receding rate of glaciers. We will see our sea level rise more, which is worrying for low laying areas along the coasts. There will be fresh water contamination by salt water and loss of beach front, relocation of population and development at the coastline which is especially worrying for Brunei,” she said.

In Kuala Belait and Seria, she cited, “we can see that when there is heavy rain, there is always flooding. This is the combination effect of rising sea level.”

Noor Dina Zharina also showed the topography on the impact of rising sea level for Seria, Belait as well as Pulau Muara Besar for 2030, 2050 and 2100 where rising sea water will adversely affect low-laying areas.

“In Bandar Seri Begawan, Kampong Ayer will disappear by 2100. This is very worrying.”

Meanwhile, a researcher from Reef Check Brunei Emily Yong Pey Pey touched on signs of ocean warming in Brunei Darussalam.

She highlighted two reef check surveys that were carried out in 2012 and 2016 by Ecodiver team from RC Malaysia and local volunteers on 42 sites in the marine protected areas.

The surveys showed that overall live coral cover in 2016 was at 34.9 per cent, four per cent down from 2012.

The fair condition of live coral had dropped by 6.8 per cent and poor condition risen by 6.2 per cent. There were comparatively more fish recorded in 2012. She also shared the importance of coral reef in helping to generate income via the tourism industry, create job opportunity, provide coastal protection from storm and erosion, serve as habitat and nursery ground for marine organisms, and source of food and new medicine.

She also highlighted the importance of raising awareness on Brunei’s marine environment in schools and the public. She called for the enforcement of marine protected area from illegal fishing activities and more studies on coral biodiversity, threats to reef and marine environment as well as preparation of an up-to-date coastal resource inventory.