A newly-published report expects increased risks to Palau due to climate change. Risks include threats of hotter days, sea-level rises, heavier rainfalls and flooding, and mass coral bleaching.
Information collected shows that Palau have had more days with over 90 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures than before. Data shows that the days with over 90 degrees temperatures have increased from an average of 46 days in the 1950s to over 100 in the past decade.
For Palau, other than environmental disturbances such as coral bleaching, this is expected to threaten human health, particularly for children and the elderly, while rising sea-levels and heavy rainfalls have already proven disastrous to crops and low-lying structures in many parts of the Pacific.
Researchers at PICRC have said that large-scale coral disturbances are already increasing in intensity and frequency due to climate change, with a 1998 mass bleaching event taking between nine and twelve years to recover from, and a similar bleaching event in 2010. Researchers have already noticed coral bleaching in some parts of Palau, with more extensive bleaching occurring in enclosed areas with higher temperatures such as Risong Bay and Nikko Bay.
While these heightened risks call for preparatory action, such as expecting an increased water demand and considering options for structures along the coastlines, researchers say that the greatest challenge remains to curb greenhouse gas emissions, which is a global effort.
The report is one in a series by the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), co-authored by the Palau Office of Climate Change, the Coral Reef Research Foundation, the Palau International Coral Reef Center, and Honolulu’s East-West Center.