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Climate Change to Increase Sea Level in Lakshadweep, Will Affect Airport, Residential Areas: Study

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Sea levels will rise around the Lakshadweep Islands between 0.4 mm per year to 0.9 mm per year and will affect airport and residential areas, according to a study projecting different greenhouse gas scenarios. The study highlights that the worst possible inundation scenarios projected for Lakshadweep Islands are almost similar under different emission scenarios and all the islands in the archipelago would be vulnerable to impact from the rise in sea levels.

A team of scientists studied the climate projections of sea level rise and associated coastal inundation in atoll islands, a ring-shaped coral reef or island. The team included Aysha Jennath, Athira Krishnan, Saikat Kumar Paul, Prasad K Bhaskaran, jointly from the Department of Architecture and Regional Planning and Department of Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture, IIT Kharagpur, with support from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India under the Climate Change Programme (CCP). One of the major threats in the coming years is the rising sea level and its significant impact on small islands. This is for the first time that climate model projections have been used to assess the potential areas of inundation over the archipelago of Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea, the Science and Technology Ministry said in a statement.

“Sea level will rise around the Lakshadweep Islands in the range between 0.4 mm per year to 0.9 mm per year,” the study said. It estimated that smaller islands Chetlat and Amini are expected to have major land loss. Projection mapping indicated that about 60-70 per cent of existing shoreline would experience land loss in Amini and about 70-80 per cent in Chetlat. The present work highlights that larger islands Minicoy and the capital Kavaratti are also vulnerable to sea level rise, and expected to experience land loss along 60 per cent of the existing shoreline. Sea level rise effects are seen to have the least impact on Androth Island under all emission scenarios.

The research that was published in the journal ‘Regional Studies in Marine Science, Elsevier recently showed that the coastal inundation could have wide socio-economic impact. According to the team, projected inundation due to sea level rise can impact the islanders as residential areas are quite close to the present coastline. Also, the only airport in the archipelago is located at the southern tip of Agatti Island, and has a high likelihood of damage due to inundation from sea level rise.

The authors have suggested that keeping in view the impacts from projected sea level rise for Lakshadweep, it is necessary to have appropriate coastal protection measures and best practices to formulate planning guidelines. This study looks at future research to assess the directional nature of wave energy, impact of storminess in the Arabian Sea region, islands that are exposed and sheltered and amenities such as potable water, sanitation and so on.

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