Saturday May 25, 2024

Asia hit hardest by climate, weather disasters in 2023: UN

April 24, 2024
The World Meteorological Organisation flag. — AFP File
The World Meteorological Organisation flag. — AFP File

GENEVA: Global temperatures hit record highs last year, and the UN’s weather and climate agency said Asia was warming at a particularly rapid pace.

The World Meteorological Organisation said the impact of heatwaves in Asia was becoming more severe, with melting glaciers threatening the region’s future water security. The WMO said Asia was warming faster than the global average, with temperatures last year nearly two degrees Celsius above the 1961 to 1990 average.

The State of the Climate in Asia 2023 report highlighted the accelerating rate of key climate change indicators such as surface temperature, glacier retreat and sea level rise, saying they would have serious repercussions for societies, economies and ecosystems in the region.

“Asia remained the world’s most disaster-hit region from weather, climate and water-related hazards in 2023,” the WMO said.

The annual mean near-surface temperature over Asia in 2023 was the second highest on record, at 0.91°C above the 1991-2020 average, and 1.87°C above the 1961-1990 average.

Particularly high average temperatures were recorded from western Siberia to central Asia, and from eastern China to Japan, the report said, with Japan having its hottest summer on record.

As for precipitation, it was below normal in the Himalayas and in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, southwest China suffered from a drought, with below-normal precipitation levels in nearly every month of the year.

The High-Mountain Asia region, centred on the Tibetan Plateau, contains the largest volume of ice outside of the polar regions. Over the last several decades, 20 out of 22 monitored glaciers in the region showing continued mass loss last year.