Many areas of Sri Lanka will experience future changes in temperature, rainfall, evaporation and sea level rise, according to research discussed at an international conference of scientists and policymakers in Colombo.
“This will affect a range of sectors, including agricultural production of important export crops,” said a statement from the conference, part of the World Bank-led South Asia Water Initiative.
Surface and groundwater quality in coastal areas is also likely to be impacted affecting important drinking water supplies, it said.
Coordinated responses across all sectors can help to reduce the impacts of changing weather patterns on key sectors, urban centers and the country’s substantial natural heritage, according to participants at the forum organised jointly with the International Water Management Institute.
Water resources planning, development and management are essential for sustainable climate adaptation in South Asia, the statement said.
Urgent action is needed to ensure South Asia is better prepared to address future climate conditions, including anticipated extremes of flooding and drought, it said.
The conference saw participation from over 65 water resource and climate change experts, scientists and policy makers from seven South Asian countries- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – as well as China.
According to research presented at the conference, primary climate change effects on water resources include increased temperatures, changes in annual rainfall, changes in monsoon seasonality, increased variability and sea level rise.
These in turn will result in secondary effects like increased evapotranspiration, changes in river flows, groundwater recharge, snow and glacial melt.
Saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers and estuaries is also expected, and there is likely to be increased risk of extreme events such as floods, droughts and storms.