Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 19 Nov 2020 by:

Typhoon Goni (Rolly in the Philippines) caused more than 20 fatalities in the Philippines earlier this month. Just a few days later, Typhoon Vamco (Ulysses) struck the Philippines again, then Vietnam on the other side of the South China Sea. “It is fairly common for more than one storm to occur in an ocean basin at the same time”, said Associate Professor Adam Switzer, a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore. “Since typhoon season in Asia runs into the new year, there is unfortunately a real chance of further storms in the region before the end of 2020”, Assoc Prof Switzer added.

Typhoons form under specific sets of conditions between the ocean and the atmosphere. For example, warm sea...

Submitted on 06 Aug 2020 by:

In conversation with Assistant Professor Aron Meltzner, Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore


1. How does the recent powerful magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Alaska remind us of similar hazards in Southeast Asia?

Last week, we saw a powerful earthquake off the coast of Alaska with a magnitude of 7.8 which had the potential to trigger a damaging tsunami, but fortunately this did not happen.

It occurred along a subduction zone where the Pacific Plate is subducting or slipping under the North American plate. The shaking that we know as an earthquake results from the sudden movement between these two plates, but that sudden movement also has the potential to lift up the seafloor, which in turns lifts the water above it, and that can...

Submitted on 21 Jul 2020 by:

Sea-level rise is a hot topic today in Singapore. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his 2019 National Day Rally Speech, spoke at length about how vulnerable our island state is to 21st-century projections. However, sea-level rise is not a recent phenomenon and neither are the extreme impacts it has had on Singapore’s landscape.

Here’s another interesting fact – Singapore was not always an island. During past ‘ice ages’ where most of the world’s water was locked at the Poles, the sea was found hundreds of kilometres further away from where it is today. The clues pointing to what happened to Singapore thousands of years ago as a result of sea-level changes can be found right under our feet.

A team from NTU’s Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), the British...

Submitted on 08 Jul 2020 by:

A commentary by Professor Benjamin Horton (Earth Observatory of Singapore) and Emeritus Professor Perter Horton (University of Sheffield), published online on 7 July 2020 in One Earth, looks at how the current COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are signs of the unsustainability of human society and the decreasing resilience of our ailing planet.

Titled “COVID-19 and the Climate Emergency: Do Common Origins and Solutions Reside in the Global Agrifood System?”, the authors discuss whether both events have the same underlying causes and common solutions, and whether they might be rooted in a failing global agrifood system.

Citing declining...

Submitted on 05 Jun 2020 by:

Rising from the muddy depths of Singapore’s tropical swamps, the distinctive roots of the mangrove trees lie draped in a descending curve – with some parts of the roots buried in the wet soil, and other parts exposed to the humid air. 

Because home along the coast is consistently flooded with sea water brought in by the tides, mangrove trees need to have a part of their roots above water to help them breathe in a waterlogged environment that is often low in oxygen. It is this distinct vertical accretion in their growth that makes mangrove trees incredibly important in our fight against climate change.

The mangrove ecosystem is an intriguing, intricate one that allows its trees to adapt to high temperature and salinity levels. As a dense forest, the tangled...

Submitted on 23 Aug 2019 by:

In the video below, Professor Benjamin Horton, Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore and Chair of the Asian School of the Environment, shares his thoughts on the topic of climate and sea-level rise in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s 2019 National Day Rally (NDR) speech that was aired on 18 August 2019.

Prof Horton felt that PM Lee had successfully communicated and emphasised the urgency for Singapore to take the right actions to deal with the effects of climate change. This is especially important for land-scarce Singapore, where we can’t simply move in-land as a means to adapt to sea levels that certainly will rise. As an important first step, he recommends that Singapore “invest in the science, [so that we] can have responsible and robust adaptation...

Submitted on 03 Oct 2018 by:
The Singapore Series on Sea-Level Rise, a special blog series by four Masters students from the University of Melbourne.

Our previous blog posts in the Singapore Series on Sea-Level Rise discussed the science behind sea-level rise, as well as the effects on Singapore as global temperatures increase and sea levels rise. If you have missed reading our first two blogs, you can find them here:

The Science of Sea-Level Rise: How Climate Change will Hurt Singapore

Why Your Chicken Rice Depends on Sea-Level Rise

These blog posts should make it clear that Singapore is...

Submitted on 26 Sep 2018 by:
The Singapore Series on Sea-Level Rise, a special blog series by four Masters students from the University of Melbourne.

Sea-level rise (SLR) will affect all Singaporeans whether that be the businessman, the factory worker, or the high school student. Everyone will be impacted from the effects of rising sea levels. 

As emphasised in our first post of this special blog series on climate change in Singapore, the rate and magnitude of sea-level rise are increasing. The impacts of this acceleration will affect all aspects of Singaporean life.

In this blog post, we will explore aspects of food and water security, and the prospects of Singaporeans becoming...

Submitted on 19 Sep 2018 by:

The Singapore Series on Sea-Level Rise, a special blog series by four Masters students from the University of Melbourne.

We know human-induced climate change is real. It is happening across the world because of rising concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

Sometimes it is hard to know if the climate is changing if you are isolated from many of its effects. However, countless populations are already exposed to the impacts of climate change, which include: warming temperatures, changing rainfall, increased droughts and wildfires, decline in agricultural yield, more flooding, and many other consequences.

Although Singapore is not presently in a climate crisis, the effects are not far away. Other than extreme temperatures, one of...