The Effects of Climate Change on West Papua’s Coastal Communities

Get to Know What Climate Change Is

For the past few years, the global warming crisis has somewhat impacted extreme climate change. Now various concerns and problems related to climate change arise, including the effects of climate change on coastal areas. 

Eventually, coastal communities are the people most at risk of being affected by climate change.

What is Climate Change?

Get to Know What Climate Change Is

In brief, climate change is a phenomenon of changes in the physical condition of the earth’s atmosphere. This climate change occurs because the sun’s heat energy cannot wholly escape from the planet; in other words: global warming.

Climate change encompasses changes in temperature and rainfall distribution. Eventually, weather changes caused by climate change can continue for decades.

Climate change was declared as a global emergency beginning in 1992. More precisely, this statement was given out at the Earth Summit in 1992. This decision was made after the overall impact of climate change proved detrimental and threatened human survival. [1]

What is the Impact of Climate Change on Coastal Communities?

Impact of The Effects of Climate Change for Coastal Communities

What are the effects of climate change on coastal areas? Are the impacts of climate change that terrible? 

The significant impacts of climate change affecting communities on the coast worldwide are also happening to coastal communities in West Papua. Here are some of the adverse effects of climate change on coastal communities.

Understanding the impact of climate change can help find solutions to prevent it.

1. Coastal Area Floods

For coastal areas, climate change causes sea level rise. High rains from climate change and melting polar ice caps from global warming is the reason why the sea levels are rising.

Rising sea levels have a number of unfavorable effects on the villages that are located along the coast. One of the threats is that there is a chance that there will be floods, especially in low-lying coastal areas.

Low-lying coastal areas will be more vulnerable to tidal flooding, especially when there is a combination of high tides and high rainfall. [2]

Some examples of tidal flood cases in the coastal areas of West Papua are the floods in the Mbahamdandara and Arguni districts in Fakfak. Both are happening in 2021.

2. Seawater Intrusion

Apart from flooding, sea level rise also causes seawater intrusion. Seawater intrusion is the rise of the boundary between the groundwater and seawater levels towards the mainland. 

The increase in this limit can potentially cause seawater to seep into the groundwater. The result of seawater intrusion is the destruction of groundwater sources for daily needs. [3] [4]

To avoid seawater intrusion in the West Papua region, in 2020, the Fakfak Police planted 300 mangrove trees on the coast of Gewerpe, Fakfak.

3. Ocean Temperatures Rising

Climate change also has an impact on extreme weather conditions, such as hot weather. This hot weather affects rising seawater temperatures. The increase in the temperature of the ocean has had a significant effect on the catches of fish along the coast. 

Rising temperatures have an impact on the amount and availability of coastal resources such as fish, shellfish, and mollusks. In particular, temperature increases cause these fish and biota to migrate or possibly die.

In short, changes in ocean temperature can change movement patterns and the abundance of marine species. The increase in the temperature harms the fisheries sector and the livelihoods of coastal communities that depend on this resource. [6]

Conclusion

Those are some of the impacts that may be felt directly by the coastal community as a whole, including the people of West Papua.

Now, to mitigate the effects of climate change on coastal areas, comprehensive risk protection and management initiatives are required. The risk management includes handling tidal floods, mitigating global warming, reducing waste, and conserving marine ecosystems in coastal areas.