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Asian Countries Grapple with Devastating Impacts of Climate Change and Extreme Weather

As Asia grapples with the fallout of climate change, concerted efforts are required to build resilience and adapt to a rapidly changing climate landscape.

Shivam Dwivedi
Asian Countries Grapple with Devastating Impacts of Climate Change and Extreme Weather (Photo Source: Pexels)
Asian Countries Grapple with Devastating Impacts of Climate Change and Extreme Weather (Photo Source: Pexels)

Asia faced unprecedented challenges stemming from climate change and extreme weather events last year, revealing alarming trends and a pressing need for concerted action. The latest report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) underscores the gravity of the situation, highlighting not only the increasing frequency and severity of weather-related disasters but also their profound impact on lives, economies, and ecosystems across the region.

The State of the Climate in Asia 2023 report paints a stark picture of accelerating climate change indicators in the region. Surface temperatures soared to record highs, with Asia warming at a rate double that of the global average. Sea-surface temperatures in the northwest Pacific Ocean hit unprecedented levels, exacerbating the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like floods, storms, and heatwaves.

Disastrous Toll on Human Lives and Economies

Asia bore the brunt of climate-related disasters in 2023, experiencing 79 hydro-meteorological hazard events, predominantly floods and storms, resulting in over 2,000 fatalities and affecting nine million people directly. The toll was particularly severe in vulnerable countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar, where tropical cyclone Mocha wreaked havoc, underscoring the critical need for early warning systems and disaster preparedness.

Cryospheric Changes and Glacial Retreat

The report highlights alarming trends in the cryosphere, particularly in the High-Mountain Asia region, which encompasses the Tibetan Plateau. Glaciers, covering approximately 100,000 km², are rapidly retreating, with 20 out of 22 observed glaciers showing continued mass loss. This retreat is exacerbated by record-breaking temperatures in the East Himalaya and Tien Shan regions, emphasizing the fragility of these ecosystems.

Sea surface temperatures in critical regions like the Kuroshio current system and the Arabian Sea are warming at alarming rates, impacting marine ecosystems and contributing to marine heatwaves across the Arctic Ocean and other areas. The loss of sea ice in the Barents Sea is accelerating due to this warming trend, highlighting feedback mechanisms that further intensify ocean warming.

Extreme Weather Events: Floods, Storms, and Heatwaves

Over 80% of reported hydrometeorological hazards in Asia in 2023 were flood and storm events, claiming lives and causing extensive damage. India, Yemen, and Pakistan were particularly affected by devastating floods, while tropical cyclones and extreme precipitation events wreaked havoc across the region. Japan and China experienced record-breaking temperatures, underscoring the human cost of extreme heatwaves.

Despite growing awareness, challenges persist in effectively addressing climate risks in Asia. While 80% of WMO Members in the region provide climate services for disaster risk reduction, less than half offer tailored products needed for informed risk management and adaptation strategies. This underscores the urgent need to enhance climate services and provide tailored support to mitigate rising disaster risks.

The State of the Climate in Asia 2023 report serves as a sobering reminder of the escalating climate crisis gripping the region. Urgent and coordinated action is imperative to strengthen early warning systems, enhance disaster preparedness, and develop tailored climate services. By prioritizing regional initiatives and informed decision-making, stakeholders can mitigate the impact of climate change on societies, economies, and ecosystems in Asia.

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