Bay of Bengal Countries Losing Coastal Areas to Rising Sea Level

Earth’s climate is changing rapidly, and the adverse affects of this change include the rise in average global temperature, also commonly known as the global warming.

Global warming is a very wide discussed topic, but how it has been causing the sea-level rise has never been discussed in simple and gullible language.

The connection between global warming and rising sea-level is very interesting and it comes in two forms. First: since the oceans and seas are becoming warmer due to the rising temperature, seawater expands and takes up more space in oceans and seas, causing rise in sea-level.

Second: the rising temperatures are melting ice and glaciers (in the ice-covered regions of the earth), which then turn into water and spreads across oceans and seas, causing rise in sea-level.

Because of this sea-level rise, the coastal landmass of almost all the countries having coastal areas face the risk of being submerged under water. The Bay of Bengal countries, including Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Thailand, are no exception.

Bangladesh is a flood-prone country, which has suffered over the centuries from severe floods. The continuous rise in sea-level will only help add more sufferings, as around 6-8% of Bangladesh is predicted to be submerged under water by 2030 due to this sea-level rise.

Moreover, the freshwater sources in the coastal areas of Bangladesh, including rivers and aquifers, face deep intrusion of saline water from sea and ocean due to rising sea-levels — a vulnerability that India, Myanmar and Thailand too face during the dry season.

India’s coastal landmass too faces the risk of being submerged under water. The fact that India has coastlines on Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal as well as deep into the Indian Ocean makes the country highly vulnerable to the rise in sea-level.

It is projected that a substantial portion of the Indian coastal landmass, which has  55 million inhabitants, will be submerged if there is a global increase in temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, though the objective of the 2015 UN climate summit in Paris was to cap the rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Even with this 2 degrees Celsius increase, some 20 million coastal inhabitants in India would still be affected adversely, as their homes would be lost to the rising sea-level.

Like India and Bangladesh, two other Bay of Bengal countries, Thailand and Myanmar, are also vulnerable to the increasing rise in seal-level.

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, is at the risk of submerging into the sea within a matter of few decades, as the city has been sinking 10 centimetres every year. As for Myanmar, a substantial portion of the country’s coastal areas is predicted to be submerged under water by 2050.

If the environment continues to deteriorate in this manner due to climate change, millions of inhabitants living in the coastal areas of aforementioned countries – as well as other countries having coastlines with seas and oceans – would become climate refugees.

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Bahauddin Foizee Written by:

Bahauddin Foizee is a Threat/Risk Intelligence Analyst focusing on the assessment of investment, legal, security, political and geopolitical threat/risk. He also supports other analysts who are involved in assessing environmental, financial and military threat/risk. His insights, analysis and columns on social, legal, political, geo-political and environmental affairs across the Asia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific and the Middle East regions have been widely published on think-tank-publications and media-outlets across the world.