Like many countries around the world, Singapore is experiencing the effects of climate change.
In recent years, Singapore has seen bouts of high temperatures, intense thunderstorms leading to flash floods, dry spells, and the threat of rising sea levels. These can cause significant damage to homes, businesses and livelihoods globally.
As a low-lying, densely-populated tropical island city-state, we are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and variability.
Here are some examples of how Singapore is experiencing the effects of climate change.
2019 was our hottest year on record, alongside 2016. The annual mean temperature in 2019 was 28.4°C — 0.9°C higher than the 1981-2010 long-term average, and equalled the previous warmest year record of 28.4°C set in 2016.
Four of the past five years are among the top 10 warmest years on record with respect to annual mean temperature, since temperature records began in 1929.
Towards the end of this century (2070 to 2099), daily mean temperatures are projected to increase by 1.4°C to 4.6°C , compared with the baseline period of 1980 to 2009.
In 2014, Singapore experienced a record 27-day dry spell. Our desalination and NEWater plants had to operate near full capacity to meet our water needs.
In 2016, the prolonged dry period brought water levels at Linggiu Reservoir to a the historic low of 20%.
In 2010, 2011 and 2013, heavy rainfall contributed to major flash flood events, resulting in significant damage.
The contrast between the wet months (Nov to Jan) and dry months (Feb and Jun to Sep) will likely become more pronounced in the future. Increasing trends in both intensity and frequency of heavy rainfall events are expected as the world gets warmer.
How else can climate change affect Singapore?
Communities and property along Singapore’s coastline could be affected by rising sea levels.
Based on today’s science, climate scientists in Singapore have projected that our mean sea levels could rise by up to around one metre by 2100. If ice sheets melt more rapidly and, worse, if ice shelves in Antarctica were to collapse, sea levels could reach one metre even earlier, or go even higher.
An increase in the intensity of weather variability could present significant challenges to the management of our water resources. Periods of drought can affect the reliability of Singapore’s water supply, while sudden episodes of intense rainfall could overwhelm our drainage system and lead to flash floods.
Our Biodiversity and Greenery
Trees could be damaged or uprooted due to strong winds.
Biodiversity may be affected by changes in temperature and rainfall.
There may be more bush fires due to temperature increase and low rainfall.
Our Public Health
Higher temperatures may affect human health and healthcare operations.
Vector and pest populations could increase due to higher temperatures and rainfall, increasing the incidence of diseases such as dengue.
Our Food Supply
The effects of climate change, such as intense storms, flooding and prolonged droughts, are one of the trends threatening global food security. In Singapore, we are particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in global food supply and prices, as we import more than 90% of our food.
Our Essential Services
Intense rainfall, sea level rise, and temperature changes could affect the operation of our telecommunications, power, and transport infrastructure.
Our Buildings and Infrastructure
Safety and reliability of infrastructure could be impacted by strong winds and higher temperatures.
Increased rainfall could lead to slope instability