Climate change is a key reason to increase river salinity leading to shortages of drinking water and irrigation. It is bringing a substantial difference in the aquatic ecosystems in the coastal areas of Bangladesh.
In the coastal areas of Bangladesh, salinity intrusion in soil may lead to a deteriorating yield by 15.6% of high-harvesting-variety rice and reduce the income of farmers expressively.
In the background of climate change, we know, the coastal population is more exposed to saltwater intrusion. These populations on the “frontline” of climate change because of the constant sea-level rise beyond 2100, even if greenhouse gas emissions remain stable today.
Therefore, Bangladesh must comprehend the potential impacts and begin planning to cope with them.
However, most research has focused on the long-run effects of the sea level rise and associated losses from heightened cyclone-induced surges.
So, we need to investigate the level of higher salinity from saltwater intrusion, and its impact on livelihoods and adaptation alternatives.
To look more closely at the impacts of climate change on saltwater intrusion, the World Bank researched on the coastal region of Bangladesh.
Already, they found the coastal area is facing problems from salinization. And, the situation is deteriorating.
Climate Change and River salinity in coastal areas.
Climate change causes substantial changes in river salinity. Accordingly, it leads to the crisis of drinking water as well as the shortage of irrigation water.
Shortly, the changes in river salinity will unpleasantly affect the productivity of many capture fisheries. Negatively, it will affect the wild habitats of freshwater fish and giant prawns.
The health of Mangrove trees is declining.
A new study says the health of mangrove trees of the Sundarbans has significantly declined over the last 30 years due to salinity increase.
Consequently, the decline in health could critically hamper the ability to spring back. It makes it prone to unexpected climate-related hazards.
Also, the salinity increase in the water may induce a shift in the Sunderbans mangrove forest from Sundari to Gewa and Guran.
Accordingly, Bagerhat, Barguna, Barisal, Bhola, Khulna, Jhalokati, Pirojpur, and Satkhira districts will be most adversely affected.
Climate Change, Soil Salinity in Coastal
Soon, the salinity level in the soil will surge in many areas of Barisal, Chittagong, and Khulna districts significantly. A study on the soil of the coastal regions of Bangladesh, the Soil Research Development Institute projects a median increase of 26% in salinity by 2050, with increases over 55% in the most affected areas.
Impacts on rice production due to climate change.
Accordingly, the climate-induced soil salinity is impacting on the output of high-harvesting-variety rice. As a result, the rice harvest is likely to decline by 15.6% in nine coastal unions, where the soil salinity will exceed around four decisions per meter by 2050.
Now, the farmers are earning less from rice production in several regions, along with the losses of 10.5% Barisal and 7.5 in Chittagong, earlier.
Consequently, many unions are suffering from significant yield losses and substantial price reductions from rising salinity.
Livelihoods are in threat in a changing climate.
Already, the salinity has turned the household status to the most harmful level. The poverty impact is striking one that the economic situation of a coastal household is in the bottom 20% rises six-fold, from 8% to 56%.
Therefore, the Bangladesh government is trying to cope up with the adverse effects of a changing climate. As we know, the country is one of the frontiers which is affected by climate change.
Zulker Naeen is a South Asia Fellow at Climate Tracker and freelance climate journalist from Bangladesh. He has three years of experience in the field. Zulker developed all his courses with the support of other experienced Climate Tracker staff credited on the course landing page.
As a young climate advocate, his fellowship aims to share knowledge of climate change. Climate Tracker is a global media network closely works on Climate Change.