A recent study done by a team from the National University of Singapore has raised the issue of rising sea levels and the impact that will have on Singapore.

Their report anticipates a rise in sea levels of anywhere between 9 to 88 cm by year 2100. The median estimate is a rise of about 50 cm. It also includes additional results for the La Nina phenomenon, as well as outlining their methodology and measures to ensure accuracy. The full report can be found at


No doubt, the study of global ocean levels is by no means a simple nor exact science, but it does have a very real geographic impact, as can be seen in the island chain of Hawaii. (http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/coasts/sealevel/) Needless to say, as an island state, such a phenomenon could have a major impact on Singapore.

As has been brought to the forefront recently, Singapore periodically struggles with major flooding in certain areas even in this day and age. (Some might say once every 50 years, but others would disagree.)

Flood, Singapore, Orchard, Newton, Bukit Timah, Tanglin, Underground, Carpark, Cars

Currently, flooding can be attributed to two factors.

Firstly, Singapore weather is prone to sudden and prolonged thunderstorms that can overwhelm drainage systems, especially in low-lying areas. The drainage systems in these areas are just not sufficient or efficient enough to deal with these sudden spikes in water volume.

The second factor is the intense and rapid urbanisation of the Singapore landscape, both above and below ground level. With more and more concrete, asphalt and metal covering our above-ground surfaces, water cannot flow into the ground readily, and forms pools in poorly-drained areas (also known in some circles as “ponding”). Drainage networks such as channels, flows, canals and drains, must be built to deal with this. But even with these networks, there is still the issue of water capacity. With the number of underground structures increasing in Singapore, such as deeper basements, Mass Rapid Transit lines and even the drainage networks mentioned earlier, water capacity of the soil is reduced more and more.

We can no longer rely on the soil to absorb and retain water, and must instead allow it to be channeled away. This further increases our already-heavy reliance on an efficient drainage system.

Thus, as it stands today, flooding is a recurring issue in Singapore.

Imagine then, what kind of impact a rising groundwater table would have on the frequency and intensity of floods in Singapore, especially during the storm seasons.

Going back to that report about sea level rise, if we take the median rise of 50 cm by year 2100 as an example, and plot a timeline, sea levels would have gone up by more than 20 cm in 50 years’ time. During the monsoon seasons, it will mean that storm surge will push sea water further inland than before, and the groundwater table will also rise more than before. These events could severely compromise our drainage system’s ability to deal with flood waters, and right in the middle of the most rain-intense season of the year.

If you think the flooding situation in Singapore is bad now, we believe it will only get worse, unless the state already has contingencies to deal with the impact of rising sea levels.

But while we question whether our government is prepared for such an occurrence, or is even aware of this threat, we should also be asking ourselves the same. When we make buying decisions on property, do we take into account flooding in the impact and risk analysis? An area that is prone to flooding isn’t just an inconvenience; it can have real financial consequences. Just ask those who must now pay higher automotive insurance premiums because their basement car parks sometimes double as indoor pools. And that is even before they have to make an insurance claim to turn their submarine back into a (dry) working car. And that is assuming insurance companies have not excluded just such a mishap (“act of God” or “flooding due to natural causes” clause) from their coverage, since we’re talking about tens of thousands for just one claim alone.

When the groundwater table rises, it usually rises evenly throughout the area. In the context of Singapore, the whole island would probably experience a rise in groundwater level due to sea level rise. There will be absolutely nowhere for flood water to drain off properly. If flood waters currently stand just shy of your front door, a groundwater table rise of just a few centimetres could be enough to push the flood right into your living room.

This could happen in just a few decades, so it is perhaps time to start preparing for it. Even if valuers do not factor in this risk in their valuation of properties now, eventually it will happen. Just as insurance companies have responded to flood-damaged cars with increased premiums for cars registered in flood-prone homes. Do you really want to be the one to be stuck with the lemon when valuation prices do start to take into account flooding risk? And even if valuers are slow on the uptake, you can be almost certain that a percentage of buyers will have wised up, causing you fewer sale prospects than before. If we only start thinking about it when it has become reality, we would only have ourselves to blame for having to pump water out of the living room, and having to settle for lower resale prices.

Do you think flooding would be an issue for you? Let us know in the section below, or via our social media channels, FacebookTwitter, and Google+. Check out our other articles on property at BLUTA-log.

PS: Even as we were putting together this article over the weekend, another flash flood hit the Chai Chee area. And it isn’t even the traditional rainy season right now.


  One Response to “Rising sea levels – is Singapore prepared?”


    I am sure the G knows about this and thats the reason they allowed so many foreigners in to extract as much as wealth possible so they can evacuate when S goes under water.

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