Climate Change impact on sea level rising in Bahrain

Therese El Gemayel, 17 Jul 2017

The Kingdom of Bahrain, one of the 52 small islands developing states in the world, consists of 40 islands with a total land size of about 767 square kilometers in 2015 (Central Informatics Organization). The majority of the country’s population lives in coastal zones (Bahrain’s Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment, and Wildlife) and 81 percent of the population lives in Manama, the capital. The Kingdom is one of the most densely populated countries in the world at 1,700 persons per square kilometer in 2014 with projections of population doubling in size in less than 20 years (CIO). The highest altitude is registered at 134 meters above sea level, while a large proportion of the coastal area does not exceed 5 meters of altitude.


One of the main environmental challenges facing Bahrain by the end of the century is sea level rise (SLR) due to climate change.


The four different scenarios[1] set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments draw an alarming future for the coastal zone population of Bahrain. Based on the Kingdom’s qualitative assessment of the SLR risks, the predicted loss ranges from 27 percent of the Kingdom’s area with a rise of 1.5 meters of sea water to 56 percent of the Kingdom’s area with a rise of 5 meters by 2100 (PCPMREW).


The effects of climate change on Bahrain can affect three mediums. The coastal medium can be impacted by a rise in sea temperature, sea acidification, coral bleaching, shoreline erosion and degraded coastal fisheries. The impact on the terrestrial medium can be visible through sea water intrusion to the freshwater aquifers, while the impact on the human medium can be discerned by the relocation of coastal communities, loss of habitat in urban zones and damages to the infrastructure (Nurse et al., 2014).


The Kingdom has launched a set of mitigation measures to address the impact of climate change in regard to SLR, these mainly consist of strengthening capacities in terms of initiating a coastal monitoring program, strengthening the urban planning considerations and laws to address climate change impact, revising legal and administrative procedures for land reclamation, integrating enhanced environmental safeguards, raising policymakers and public awareness on the impacts of SLR, involving the local communities in developing adaptive responses, and reinforcing existing coastal protection structures. On the other hand, mitigation measures for the marine ecosystems targeted the rehabilitation of mangroves, the establishment of extended conservation zones for coral reefs, legal protection and development of integrated management plan for the threatened ecosystems and intensify afforestation (PCPMREW).




[1] The IPCC has developed several scenarios for 2050 and 2100 related to the probable impact of climate change on the environment, countries, and ecosystems based on the current and altered trends of social, economic and environmental behaviors (IPCC, 2000). 


Therese El Gemayel is an environment, energy and statistics consultant. She has worked on development projects in the Western Asia region targeting the enhancement of statistical capacities of government officials in the data collection, validation, analysis and reporting, and the development of evidence-based policies. 


The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of neither the Arab Development Portal nor the United Nations Development Programme. 

Therese El Gemayel Therese El Gemayel

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