IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Observed and projected climatic changes, their impacts and adaptation options for Sri Lanka: a review


  • Eriyagama, Nishadi
  • Smakhtin, Vladimir


Climate is changing world-wide, and the science community in Sri Lanka has come up with ample evidence to suggest that the country’s climate has already changed. During 1961-1990 the country’s mean air temperature increased by 0.016 0C per year, and the mean annual rainfall decreased by 144 mm (7 %) compared to the period 1931-1960. In addition, mean annual daytime maximum and mean annual night-time minimum air temperatures increased. However, the bigger question of national importance is what Sri Lanka’s climate will look like in 50 or 100 years and how prepared is the country to face it. Apart from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections at the coarse global scale, few studies have attempted to project future climate scenarios for Sri Lanka and to identify climate change impacts on agriculture, water resources, the sea level, the plantation sector, the economy and health. Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change are the least studied areas. This paper reviews the status of climate change research and activities in Sri Lanka with respect to future climate projections, impacts, climate change mitigation and the country’s ability to adapt, and identifies existing knowledge gaps. Messages emerging from this review suggest that Sri Lanka’s mean temperature during the North-East (December-February) and South-West (May-September) monsoon seasons will increase by about 2.9 0C and 2.5 0C, respectively, over the baseline (1961-1990), by the year 2100 with accompanying changes in the quantity and spatial distribution of rainfall. Extreme climate events are expected to increase in frequency. These changes will bring about widespread impacts on the country’s agriculture and economy For example, an increase of 0.5 0C in temperature can reduce rice yield by approximately 6%; extended dry spells and excessive cloudiness during the wet season can reduce coconut yield resulting in annual losses between $32 and $73 million to the economy. Pilot studies in the Galle District suggest that sea level rise could inundate about 20 % of the land area of Galle’s coastal District Secretariat Divisions. Adaptation measures already undertaken in the agriculture sector include the development of low water consuming rice varieties and the use of micro-irrigation technologies. Tools have been developed for predicting seasonal water availability within the Mahaweli Scheme and annual national coconut production. However, Sri Lanka is yet to undertake a comprehensive national study on the vulnerability of her water resources and agriculture to climate change. The formulation of detailed and reliable future climate scenarios for the country is therefore, urgently required.Length: pp.99-117

Suggested Citation

  • Eriyagama, Nishadi & Smakhtin, Vladimir, 2010. "Observed and projected climatic changes, their impacts and adaptation options for Sri Lanka: a review," Conference Papers h042863, International Water Management Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:iwt:conppr:h042863

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Climate change;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iwt:conppr:h042863. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chandima Gunadasa). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.