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The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta: A half degree difference

Source(s):  Dhaka Tribune (DT)

By Laura Bahlman

Delta areas such as the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GMB) Delta  are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise and the associated risks of it. Coastal delta areas are both presently and historically areas in which people have settled for the ecosystems they provide, the trade routes they enhance and the economic activity surrounding them. As a result, the impacts of climate change, specifically that of sea-level rise, serve as a major threat to these coastal areas, the ecosystems within and the people dependent on these lands. 


It is difficult to identify a single driver of change in such a dynamic system as that of the GMB delta. However, there is a long list of human intervention affecting the changes being witnessed. These include: The change of land use up stream; the development of dams and barrages; land cover change including the extensive polder systems (which allow for the manipulation of hydrological systems and sedimentary flux); the expansion of extensive shrimp farming in the south; and the regional and local subsidence that occurs both naturally and as a result of interventions. These human interventions dominate the visible changes shadowing the effects of climate change, both in the GMB delta system but also in other deltas populated globally.

Climate change stabilization will ultimately reduce the expected global impacts with climate stabilization being reached by 2100. However, sea-level rise will continue being compounded by human alterations in the delta system. The time scale of sea-level rise is projected to continue until 2300 under both 1.5°C and 2°C stabilization scenarios, with 1.5°C of warming resulting in medium global rise of 0.9m while 2°C would result in 1.2m of global sea-level rise. While there is currently limited understanding of the effects of sea-level rise at the varying degrees of 1.5 °C and 2°C stabilization scenarios for vulnerable delta areas and while the immediate effects of a 1.5°C rise may be relatively small, sea-level rise represents the most apparent legacy in delta areas. 


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  • Publication date 24 Sep 2018

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