DHAKA: A UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, the panoramic Sunderbans, now in a race to become one of 7 natural wonders of the planet, is apprehended to be vanishing by the year 2100 for the ongoing sea-level rise owing to the global warming.
Environmental experts express such an apprehension as they forecast a one-meter rise in the sea level could lead the world’s largest mangrove forest to the destruction by the year 2100.
“The panoramic landscape of the flora and fauna that lies along the southwestern coast of the Bay of Bengal will be gone by the year 2100 if the sea-level rise continues to increase at the current rate,” said environmental scientist SM Enamul Haque while talking to banglanews Monday.
The Department of Environment in its UNDP-funded survey also found that an anthropogenic 10-cm rise in sea level may lead to 15 percent disappearance of the Sunderbans, 25-cm rise may lead to 40 percent diapareance of the forest while 75 percent of the entire mangove would go under water if there be a 45-cm rise in the sea level.
Besides, Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy 2009 reveals that rise in the sea level will not only destroy the Sunderbans and its biodiversity but also a large area in the coastal belt will also go under water.
According to this strategy, if there is an 88-cm rise in the sea level, most of the costal districts, including Barguna, Khulna, Satkhira, Patuakhali, Bhola and Bagerhat, will be inundated.
It is also noted that Bangladesh ranks top in Germanwatch Global Climate Risks Index (GCRI) 2009 as the country is one of the most affected by the adverse impacts of climate change such as rising sea level, flooding and heat waves.
Referring to oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta, Germanwatch reports that sea levels in the Bay of Bengal had risen about 3 millimeters a year until 2000, but kept rising about 5 millimeters annually over the last ten years.
The physical development processes along the coast are influenced by a multitude of factors, comprising wave motions, micro-and macro-tidal cycles and long shore currents typical to the coastal tract.
In many of the Indian mangrove wetlands, freshwater reaching the mangroves was considerably reduced from the late 19th centuray due to diversion of freshwater in the upstream area. Also, the Bengal Basin is slowly tilting towards the east due to neo-tectonic movement, forcing greater freshwater input to the Bangladesh Sundarbans.
A 2007 report by UNESCO—‘Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage’-- has stated that an anthropogenic 45-cm rise in sea level (likely by the end of the 21st century according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), combined with other forms of anthropogenic stress on the Sundarbans, could lead to the destruction of 75% of the Sundarbans mangroves.
BDST: 2100 HOURS, NOV 29, 2010