Sea-level rise (SLR) is a critical issue brought about by climate change, primarily caused by the expansion of water due to rising sea temperatures and melting of the ice sheets and glaciers. Among those that are threatened by the events brought by SLR are communities near the coasts, due to increased intensity of storm surges, flooding or permanent inundation, disruption of human activities, and forced migration.
The rise of mean sea-level for the Philippines has been noted in several studies to be above the global average rate, ranging from 5.7 to 7.0 mm per year. With 60% of the Philippines cities located along the coast, including the country’s largest and its capital, Manila, the country is especially vulnerable to sea level rise and its impacts.
The OML Center’s Sea Level Rise Project then aims to equip decision-makers in select coastal cities in the Philippines with more practical/usable, science-based SLR information to help communities effectively adapt to climate change, specifically its future impacts. It is a multi-year project that is composed of the following components, in collaboration with various experts:
1. Scoping Review of SLR Researches and Data – Collating and synthesizing both published research articles and grey literature to map out the extent of sea level rise research conducted in and relevant to the country to guide in identifying more specific research topics.
2. Identifying SLR Data User Needs Implementing a data user needs assessment survey to selected LGUs to identify which/what kind of SLR data users need the most and to determine which of these requirements can be met by data currently available based on the scoping review.
3. Local Sea Level Rise Modeling – Simulating SLR projections and extent of inundation maps of selected sites in the Philippines using tide gauge and land subsidence data from the Project Coastal Sea Level Rise-Philippines (CSLR-Phil). At the moment, the center is working with Dr. Rosalie Reyes from University of the Philippines Department of Geodetic Engineering, and Dr. Charina Lyn Repollo from the Marine Science Institute.
4. Vulnerability and Impact Assessment – Examining both physical and socioeconomic factors to develop a coastal vulnerability index that will assess the impacts and associated hazards of the different sea level rise scenarios in the Philippines.
5. Adaptation to Sea Level Rise – Based on the results generated and discussions between DRRM experts and LGUs, this component aims to recommend appropriate and feasible adaptation strategies to the selected coastal sites.
6. Developing an SLR Decision Tool – An easily accessible tool/platform containing project results and recommended SLR adaptation strategies will be developed and published to ensure uptake of SLR information in decision-making.
As part of continuously engaging with experts and target users of SLR information, the Center organized the first of the two-part webinar series named Taking Stock: Why Should We Be Concerned About Climate and Sea Level Changes in 2020, where current knowledge and impacts of sea level rise in the Philippines were discussed. The center also helped facilitate and organize the Rise or Fall? How Local Factors Influence Coastal Sea Levels together with Project Coastal Sea Level Rise – Philippines (CSLR-Phil) in 2021, where the current sea level rise rates in different sites in the Philippines were analyzed and explained.
As an output for the first two components, the Sea Level Rise Profiles has recently been published. The SLR Profiles is an infographic that contains an overview of the selected region, tide gauge rates processed by the Project CSLR-Phil, and the synthesized impact and adaptation strategies from completed and peer-reviewed works in selected Philippine Regions. These profiles may be used by researchers, policy-makers, and planners as a guide for future adaptive strategies to implement in their respective cities/municipalities.
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