Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Assessment in Bangladesh

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Vol. 12: 109–116, 1999


Published August 27

Climate change impacts and adaptation assessment in Bangladesh Anwar Ali*
Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization (SPARRSO), Agargaon, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh

ABSTRACT: Bangladesh is likely to be one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. This paper discusses the possible impacts of climate change in Bangladesh through tropical cyclones, storm surges, coastal erosion and back water effect. The possible increase in cyclone frequency in the Bay of Bengal, lying south of Bangladesh, due to climate change is looked at by analyzing the cyclone data for 119 yr. Both qualitative and quantitative discussions are made on cyclone intensity increase for a sea surface temperature rise of 2 and 4°C. Different scenarios of storm surges under different climate change conditions are developed by using a numerical model of storm surges for the Bay of Bengal. Possible loss of land through beach erosion due to sea level rise on the eastern coast of Bangladesh is examined. Some discussions are also made on the impacts of back water effect due to sea level rise on flood situations in the country. Finally, a few remarks are made on the adaptation options for Bangladesh in the event of climate change. KEY WORDS: Bangladesh · Climate change · Impacts · Tropical cyclone · Storm surge · Erosion · Back water effect · Adaptations

1. INTRODUCTION Bangladesh is a disaster-prone country. Almost every year, the country experiences disasters of one kind or another — such as tropical cyclones, storm surges, coastal erosion, floods, and droughts — causing heavy loss of life and property and jeopardizing the development activities. The country is already beset with many problems like high population density (120 million people living in an area of 144 000 km2), shortage of land to accommodate the people, food security, human health, illiteracy, and so forth. The abovementioned types of disasters make the problems all the more complicated. In the foreseeable future, Bangladesh is likely to be one of the most vulnerable countries of the world in the event of climate change. The global warming due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the earth’s atmosphere and the consequent sea level rise (SLR) are going to add fuel to the fire. Almost

*E-mail: © Inter-Research 1999

every sector of socio-economic life in Bangladesh is likely to be affected by climate change. A number of studies on the impact of climate change in Bangladesh exist. Notable among them are those of Mahtab (1989), Pramanik & Ali (unpubl.), BCAS (1994), BUP (1994), and Bangladesh Climate Change Country Study Program (1997). Quite a few details have been discussed in these and other studies with respect to impacts, adaptation, awareness, and mitigation. Most of the climate change impacts in Bangladesh are likely to come from the south — that is, the Bay of Bengal and the adjoining North Indian Ocean. These waters are the sources of tropical cyclones and storm surges, coastal erosion, monsoon wind, evaporation for monsoon rainfall, floods, and droughts. Considering these, the present paper concentrates on the following topics: tropical cyclones, storm surges, coastal erosion, and back water effect on floods in Bangladesh. The paper also discusses some possible adaptation procedures that may be undertaken in Bangladesh to face the challenge of climate change in the future.


Clim Res 12: 109–116, 1999

Fig. 1. Map of Bangladesh showing coastal area and the major river system

level (MSL), and one-third is under tidal excursions. The country has 3 distinct coastal regions — namely, western, central, and eastern coastal zones (Fig. 1). The western part, also known as the Ganges tidal plain, comprises the semiactive delta and is criss-crossed by numerous channels and creeks. The topography is very low and flat. The...
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