No threat to Georgetown if present rate of rise in sea level continues - Jaigopaul
But this could change and has to be monitored
Stabroek News
March 9, 2002

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In his talk on the subject of global warming on the Camp street avenue on the 25th February, 2002 Mr Dilip Jaigopaul, the Chief Hydrometeorological Officer said that if the current average annual rate of a rise in the sea level globally of two millimeters continues there would be no threat to the city of Georgetown from rising sea levels for the foreseeable future. However, if that rate changes the situation would have to be reassessed.

Giving the second public presentation in what is scheduled to be a series of talks on the avenue to which the public is invited and which was attended by about 50 persons, Jaigopaul dealt broadly with climate change, changes in the atmospheric concentrations of green house gases and aerosols, changes in the earth surface temperature and precipitation, observed changes in sea levels, climate variability and extreme climatic events.

Refining specifically to the impacts of climate change on bio-diversity and vulnerable eco systems, especially in Latin America, he said the projected impacts of climate change include:

** Increase in the rate of biodiversity loss, especially species already being lost due to deforestation in the Amazon;

** Adverse impacts on cloud forests, tropical seasonally dry (deciduous) forests and shrublands, low-lying habitats.

** Loss and retreat of glaciers which would adversely impact runoff and water supply in areas where glacier melt is an important water source, thus affecting the seasonality of many systems that are rich in biodiversity.

** More frequent floods and droughts with floods increasing sediment loads and causing degradation of water quality in some areas.

** Mangrove ecosystems will be negatively affected by sea level rise at a rate of l to l.7% per year and lead to a decline in some fish species.

** Climate change could disrupt lifestyles in mountain villages by altering already marginal food production and the availability of water resources and the habitats of many species that are important for the indigenous people.

In his written paper, not all of which was presented orally, Jaigopaul noted that Guyana is contributing to scientific investigations through the Inter-Governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) which is an international body based in Geneva which investigates climate change globally.

Guyana is also a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.

Guyana has participated in the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change (CPACC) activities, which among other items, provided monitoring sites at Rosignol and Parika, and has prepared a coastal vulnerability assessment. Guyana also has its own network of 23 stations in various parts of the country which measure climate parameters and 113 rainfall stations.

A climate committee is in existence called the National Climate Committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Hydromet Officer and including governmental and non-governmental organisations. This committee is responsible for advising the National Resources Environmental Advisory Committee on all matters related to climate and climate changes. In addition, this committee and various other committees and agencies have produced a number of reports and working documents based on investigations and which make projections. These reports will shortly be made available on the website of the Environmental Protection Agency. It has responsibility to the Natural Resources Environmental Advisory Committee (NREAC) which reports to a cabinet sub-committee on related issues.

Jaigopaul said Guyana has a programme to establish a permanent climate centre which will develop programmes to promote funding for adaptation measures. Guyana had also contributed to the establishment of a research centre at Guyaquil, Peru. This centre is an international institution which will investigate the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon.