State of the Climate in Asia 2022: WMO

Context:  As per a recent report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Asia is the most disaster-prone region in the world. In 2022, Asia faced 81 weather, climate, and water-related disasters. About the ‘State of the Climate in Asia 2022’ Report:
  • It Is a collaborative effort involving National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in the region, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and other specialized agencies of the United Nations.
  • It Provides a comprehensive summary of the state of the climate, extreme events, and their socio-economic impacts in the Asia region for the year 2022.
  • The 2022 report is the third in the series of the report.

Image Source: DTE

  Key Takeaways from the Report:
  • Disaster Impact in Asia (2021 vs. 2022):
Year Number of Deaths due to Natural Disasters Number of People Affected by Disasters
2021 Approximately 3,800 48.3 million
2022 Approximately 5,879 (55% increase) 52 million (increase from 2021)
  • Rising temperatures in Asia: The mean temperature over Asia in 2022 was about 0.72 degrees Celsius above the 1991–2020 average and 1.68 degrees Celsius above the 1961–1990 average.
  • Increased occurrence of extreme weather events: The rise in temperatures has led to more frequent and severe extreme weather events across Asia, including droughts, floods, and heatwaves. For example,
    • Yangtze River Basin: Worst drought in the last six decades, economic losses of about $7.6 billion.
    • Pakistan: Received 60% of normal total monsoon rainfall in three weeks, leading to urban, landslides, and glacial lake outburst floods.
    • India: Heavy rainfalls triggered landslides and river overflows, resulting in over 2,000 deaths and affecting 1.3 million people.
  • Severe Impacts on Agriculture: The agriculture sector in Asia has been particularly impacted by climate-related disasters, with more than 25% of damage and losses associated with floods, droughts, and tropical storms.
  • Economic Losses due to Floods: Economic losses due to disasters relating to floods in Pakistan, China, and India exceeded the average for the 2002–2021 period.
    • Pakistan incurred a loss of over $ 15 billion, followed by China, over $ 5 billion, and India, over $ 4.2 billion.
  • Heatwaves becoming more common: India, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, and Japan experienced abnormally warm conditions in the pre-monsoon season, with record-high temperatures in 2022.
  • Glaciers Melting: Climate change has exacerbated glacier melting in the High Mountain Asia region.
    • Four glaciers in the region have recorded significant mass losses since the mid-1990s.
  • Sea surface warming: Sea surface temperatures in the north-western Arabian Sea, the Philippine Sea, and the seas east of Japan have warmed at rates exceeding 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade since the 1980s, about three times faster than the global average.
Reasons for Disasters:
  • Climate Change: The increasing frequency and severity of weather-related disasters in Asia can be attributed to climate change. Global warming and climate variability are contributing to extreme weather events, such as heavy rainfall, floods, and droughts.
  • El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO): The continuing La Niña from 2020 to 2022 significantly influenced precipitation in parts of Asia. La Niña is associated with above-normal rainfall during the summer monsoon season over South Asia, including India and Pakistan.
  • Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD): The IOD is a major mode of climate variability over the Indian Ocean.
    • In 2022, a negative IOD phase developed, leading to above-normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and enhanced convection in the southeastern part of the Indian Ocean and below-normal SSTs in the western part.
  • Asian Monsoon: The Asian summer monsoon is a crucial monsoon system driving seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation in South and East Asia.
    • In 2022, the East Asia summer monsoon was weaker than normal, resulting in reduced rainfall over the Korean Peninsula.
  • Vulnerability: Asia’s large population, coupled with rapid urbanization and infrastructure development in vulnerable areas, has increased exposure and vulnerability to climate-related hazards.
  • Deforestation and Land Use Changes: Deforestation and land use changes can alter local weather patterns, leading to changes in precipitation and contributing to both floods and droughts.
  • Poor Land Management: Improper land management practices, such as improper irrigation and soil degradation, can exacerbate drought conditions and agricultural losses.
  • Lack of Preparedness and Early Warning Systems: Inadequate disaster preparedness and early warning systems can hinder effective response and evacuation efforts during extreme weather events.
India’s Initiatives to Tackle Climate Change
  • Panchamrit: India’s climate action plan includes five key elements, known as Panchamrit:
    • Reach 500 GW Non-fossil energy capacity by 2030.
    • Obtain 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
    • Reduce total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes from now to 2030.
    • Decrease the carbon intensity of the economy by 45% by 2030, based on 2005 levels.
    • Achieve the target of net-zero emissions by 2070.
  • National Action Plan on Climate Change: India’s Plan aims to:
    • Create awareness among the public, government agencies, scientists, industries, and communities about the threat of climate change.
    • Implement measures to counter the impacts of climate change and enhance climate resilience.
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA): The ISA is a joint effort by India and France to combat climate change through solar energy deployment.
Way Forward:
  • Strengthening Impact-Based Forecasting (IBF): Impact-based forecasting (IBF) involves forecasting “what the weather will do” instead of “what the weather will be.
  • Integrating Socioeconomic Layers with Hazard Data: Adding socioeconomic layers such as age, gender, income level and exposed assets such as infrastructure to hazard layers such as weather observations, makes it possible to identify potential exposure and vulnerability in advance.
  • Anticipatory Action for Disaster Preparedness: Anticipatory action is an adaptation method which takes IBF to the next level by systematically linking early warnings to early actions carried out before a disaster occurs.
  • Enhancing Food System Resilience: This includes climate-informed food and land use systems planning, early warnings in advance of weather extremes to advise of potential damage to crops, food shocks, and global transport and trade disruptions.
  • Investing in climate services: However, while 77% of WMO Members in Asia provide climate services for agriculture, only 47% reported providing climate projections and tailored products.
    • There is therefore a need for greater investment in climate and weather services, especially to achieve Early Warning for All.
  • Collaborate with WMO Members and relevant organizations to develop comprehensive and accessible early warning systems.
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
  • The WMO is an intergovernmental organization with 192 Member States and Territories.
  • Establishment: WMO was established by the ratification of the WMO Convention on 23rd March 1950.
  • Specialized Agency: It became the specialized agency of the United Nations for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology, and related geophysical sciences.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
  • India is one of the Member States of the WMO.
 News Source: The Indian Express

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