The island paradise of Trinidad, off the coast of Venezuela, is only about two thousand square miles in area. And every year, it’s losing one or two square meters of land to a rising sea. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Dr. Bhawan Singh is a climatologist and the principal investigator of an Earthwatch Institute field project in Trinidad. His research demonstrates that Trinidad’s rising seas seem to be the result of global warming, from the melting of glaciers and ice sheets and the thermal expansion of water.
“Based on the limited data set that we have for Trinidad, it’s showing that sea level is rising at about eight to ten millimeters per year. Which is way, way above the global average, which is only about two millimeters per year.”
“And based on our measurements on the east coast of Trinidad, for instance, they’re losing land at the rate of about one to two meters per year. That is very significant when we’re talking about, you know, a very small island. You know, land is limited. And a lot of the activities occur in the coastal areas. In addition, some of these coastal areas where we’re looking at coastal erosion are buffer zones for some of the largest natural ecosystems, wetland systems, on the island.”
A compelling support for Dr. Singh’s work is that the air temperature in the region has gone up by one degree Celsius over the past fifty years, and the temperature of the sea seems to be following suit.
“Now the temperature of the oceanic surface is very robust. It doesn’t change or fluctuate because of its very high thermal capacity. And even for the oceanic surface near to Trinidad, we’re detecting a rise at one degree Celsius.”
More on Trinidad’s rising seas in future programs.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.