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Threat of sea level rise

Manila Standard

WHILE the Philippines, an archipelagic country, lies at an altitude of 442 meters above sea level, satellite imagery, physical evidence and other studies suggest many parts, including Metro Manila, are sinking.

No thanks at all to sea level rise or SLR – the average increase in the water level of the Earth’s oceans – as a result of climate change.

Over the last century sea level has increased, and continues to rise, due to global warming caused by the human activities that have increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Between 1901 and 2018, average global sea level rose by 15–25 cm, an average of 1–2 mm per year. This rate accelerated to 4.62 mm/year for the decade 2013–2022.

Climate change due to human activities is the main cause. Between 1993 and 2018, thermal expansion of water accounted for 42 percent of sea level rise.

Being an archipelago, the Philippines is experiencing sea level rise three to four times faster than the global average rate.

Some studies have shown up to 9 million people in the Philippines living on land are expected to be under sea level by 2100.

Most of Metro Manila is between 5-10m above sea level, with higher elevations toward the east.

However, some waterfront areas are slightly below sea level, and others are rapidly sinking due to groundwater extraction in the 1990s and 2000s.

Based on a screening tool provided by Climate Central, Metro Manila cities like Manila, Navotas, Malabon, and Pasay are likely to be affected by coastal flooding. In Central Luzon, Bulacan is threatened to be underwater by 2050.

Experts warn Manila Bay seawater is rising 13.24 millimeters per year. Metro Manila is sinking by 10 centimeters annually due to rapid urbanization and extraction of groundwater.

Among the most vulnerable cities projected to be inundated due to rising sea level is the City of Manila.

According to Greenpeace East Asia, the Philippines’ national capital (14.1 million population as of 2022) will be submerged in seawater and coastal flood by 2030 should extreme sea level rise and subsequent storm surge occur.

Its highly populated residential, industrial, and commercial areas are projected to have a GDP loss of US$39 billion.

Manila Bay seawater is rising 13.24 millimeters per year. Metro Manila is sinking by 10 centimeters annually due to rapid urbanization and extraction of groundwater.

Fisher communities and low-lying islands are also at high risk to SLR.

About 64 million people living along the coast will be directly exposed to SLR are threatened with loss of hAccording to climate.gov, despite the efforts to curb GHG emissions, global sea level would rise at least 8 inches (0.2 meters) above 1992 levels by 2100.

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