The sea level of the Bay of Bengal has been rising by 1.5 mm per year, causing increased salinity intrusion in the country, environmental experts said yesterday.
Such findings appear in the Fifth Assessment Report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which monitored the sea level from 1970 to 2010.
The experts were speaking at a World Environment Day 2014 meet in the capital. This year's slogan for the day is “Raise your voice, not the sea level”.
The programme was hosted by the Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) at the Department of Forestry.
“Salinity intrusion will affect 17.5 percent more areas by 2050,” said Mohammad Selim Bhuiyan, director general of the Water Development Board.
Large swathes of land in the coastal zone are already facing adverse effects from creeping salinity, mentioned the speakers.
They observed that coastal management remains poor due to lack of coordination between the land and water ministries.
This is despite the fact that our coastal belt has more population than many small island countries, making the nation highly vulnerable to climate change, noted the experts.
By 2020, the percentage of areas at most risk of being impacted by storm surges will shoot up by 35 percent, said Selim.
The rise in sea level will not only affect coastal zones, but also the haor wetlands, said Sultan Ahmed, joint secretary at the Department of Environment.
“More than two thirds of Bangladesh may be classified as wetlands,” he added.
On the other hand, the adverse effects of sea-level rise are making Sundari trees disappear from the Sundarbans ,making Gewa and Goran the dominant species and reducing tiger habitats, said Mohammad Waji Ullah, executive director of CEGIS.
Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud also spoke at the event.