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Airdate: Feb 26, 1998
Scientist: Dr. Bhawan Singh

TRINIDAD'S RISING SEAS: Effects of Global Warming

TRINIDAD'S RISING SEAS: Effects of Global Warming
By looking at the climate changes around the island of Trinidad, we might get a glimpse of how global warming will change our planet.

Transcript:

ambience: ocean

By burning fossil fuels, human beings are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which could be altering the earth's climate - over time, gradually warming it. Scientists are gathering evidence which suggests that global warming may already be effecting our planet. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Dr. Bhawan Singh is a climatologist at the University of Montreal. His research on the Caribbean island of Trinidad suggests that global climate change can have some very real regional impacts. Trinidad is losing as many as two square meters a year to rising sea levels, which may be due to melting ice sheets and the thermal expansion of water. But the effects of global warming could be even more devastating.

"If the temperature were to rise by one or two degrees Celsius, you can have what we call massive coral bleaching. That is a loss of a protective pigmentation on the surface of the corals which can cause the corals to die. And these corals have different values or uses. They are habitats for fishes, for fisheries and in the Caribbean, they're widely used in the tourism industry."

"In terms of coastal areas worldwide, we're seeing, for instance in the Mediterranean in Egypt, there's evidence of what we call sea line penetration into coastal aquifers and estuaries."

"Your rising seas in the coastal regions would penetrate your coastal estuaries and of course affect the life of the ecosystem in these estuaries. It would also affect drinking water supplies because your fresh water would be contaminated by salt water."

Current research on global warming is still inconclusive, but we may consider what's happening in Trinidad and other coastal regions as a warning sign.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.