I am Linda Kpormone Buame, currently a 4th year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Oceanography and Fisheries at the University of Ghana, Legon. What inspired me to study this course was my interest in knowing more about the aquatic environment, already being familiar with the study of the terrestrial environment taking most of my courses in zoology, physics, chemistry and botany. My interest in the course soared due to the fact that it involved the application of the above mentioned fields of study hence integrating knowledge from various subjects in order to understand the environment.
Currently, my academic goal is to pursue environmental science at the postgraduate level with my main areas of interest being in biodiversity and conservation, restoration of riparian wetlands and remote sensing application to oceanography. In addition, I was attracted to the department’s streamlined structure where students are trained for research by giving them the opportunity to do oral presentations, write essays on environmental issues, undergoing swimming lessons, field work as well as doing internships which demanded a report.
During my first semester as a 3rd year student, I had the opportunity to pursue an introductory course in remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS). Remote sensing gives scientists the ability to capture spectral reflectance of any part of the earth’s surface without being in physical contact with it. For example remote sensing is used in the study of bathymetry with satellites containing sensors.Likewise, remote sensing shows one the state of the coast relating to the monitoring of sea level rise, floods, coastal erosion, depletion of the cryosphere, detection of natural disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes among others. Ghana, like other coastal countries has had its share of sea level rise. The rate at which the sea level rises in Ghana is 2mm per year as recorded by a tide gauge in Takoradi in the Western region of Ghana.
It is said that the world has become a global village in the sense that whatever happens in a country can affect another country negatively or positively. Currently, there are discussions concerning the melting of glaciers due to global warming that has increased sea levels. This is the situation taking place at the Polar Regions and Greenland. In connection to the goal of CReSIS concerning the impact of melting glaciers to sea level rise, it is imperative that countries like Ghana find ways and means to confront the challenge of sea level rise. In some years to come, low-lying areas at the coast may face inundation leading to the destruction of property and communities. Another impact of sea level rise is that it may cause periodic surges that may contribute to flooding of areas during rainy seasons as in the case of what happened in Dansoman a suburb in Accra.
Salt industries based at Ningo and Prampram both of which are towns in the Greater Accra Region will eventually be affected because they are low lying areas. The increase in sea level in these areas will make waves break closer to the coast since the shore line will move inland, encouraging coastal erosion.
Human activities aggravate the incidence of coastal erosion such as sand winning affecting sediment budget of the coast and over-harvesting of coastal vegetation found at mangroves, swamps, wetlands among others. Moreover, sea level rise has led to salt water intrusion of freshwater such as ground water especially aquifers by increasing the salinity. This renders water unsafe for drinking and unwholesome for domestic use. There is therefore the need to curb or control the effects of sea level rise in Ghana’s coasts.
The preventive or controllable measures that have been put in place are through the enforcement of legislative laws against sand winning and over harvesting of coastal vegetation from coastal areas. Secondly, engineering interventions such as sea walls, groynes among others are being constructed to reduce the effects of sea level rise. In addition, mass education programs are being encouraged in secondary and tertiary institutions. However, it needs to be consistent and talked about more often to inform the public about the danger it poses to settlements at the coast.
It is my hope and desire that this undergraduate summer research experience at Elizabeth City State University and University of Kansas captioned Undergraduate Research Experience in Ocean,Marine and Polar Science 2010 of which I am in the Autonomous GPS Guided Watercraft team under the mentorship of Dr. Eric Akers, in the US will broaden my reservoir of knowledge and shape my career path on the issues concerning sea level rise and the global impacts of melting ice sheets. I do hope to relate whatever I learn to the situation in Ghana to contribute to the issue of sea level rise affecting our coasts.