The Philippines has seen three times the global average in sea level rise, exacerbating its vulnerability to natural disasters, climate experts said at a conference in Paris this week.
Michael Williams of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the Philippines posted the highest average increase in sea levels, at 60 cms, against the global average of 19 cms since the year 1901.
It is a "major force of nature" against which countries like the Philippines can do little, but, said Williams, "there's a lot to be done with disaster risk prevention, alert systems, and so forth. But you have to understand that there is that additional risk."
Williams elaborated: "The global average of sea level rise since the year 1900 or 1901 has been 19 cm for the last hundred and fifteen years. However that varies widely from region to region, because of wind, because of currents in the ocean, because of changes in the land which rises and falls. So it so happens that in the area of the Philippines, where the cyclone happened last year, probably because of the trade winds and the currents of the Pacific, you have a massive amount of water between the Philippines and where the winds are pushing the water. The sea level rise, according to several of the stations we have operational there, is much much more than the global average. It's more like 60cm, and it's the highest sea level rise in the world."
According to van Ypersele, the Philippines is greatly affected by rising sea levels around the world, and because of this, even stronger storms in the future could wreak even greater damage on the country. Notably, typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last Nov. 8 was declared earliler the strongest cyclone to hit any part of the globe for 2013, drawing a Category 5 ranking from meteorologists. Asked how the Philippines can brace for the worst, he said there’s no other way than to drastically change the way structures are built in coastal areas.