Climate change makes super typhoons worse, says UN meteorological agency
Updated 4 minutes ago
The United Nations meteorological agency has found the effects of climate change are making the impact of severe storms like Typhoon Haiyan worse.
The World Meteorological Organisation’s Michel Jarraud says Australia’s record-breaking summer helped push average global temperatures higher this year, and rising sea levels worsened the situation in the Philippines.
“The impact of this cyclone was definitely significantly more than what it would have been 100 years ago because of the simple mechanical fact that the sea level is higher,” Mr Jarraud said.
“Storm surges have a much more devastating effect than they would have had decades ago.
“The same typhoon 50 years ago would have had less impact because the sea level was lower,” he said.
The agency released an early analysis of this year’s global weather, so that scientists could discuss the data at the UN climate change conference in Poland.
Australia received special mention, top-scoring with the world’s biggest increase in average temperatures last summer.
Mr Jarraud says 2013 is likely to be one of the top 10 warmest years since records began.
“Interestingly, what we call cold years in this last 10 years would have been seen as record warm years even 16, 17 years ago.”
But when asked why, Mr Jarraud was careful not to get burnt by the political heat surrounding climate change.
“The fact that the trend of higher and higher is compatible with what we expect from climate change. But the attribution, you know scientists are very careful people,” he said.
The agency says the frequency of heat waves and extreme rain is rising.
They are also warning that tropical cyclones will become more intense.
Once in a lifetime typhoons are now happening once a year: UN
Jerry Velasquez from the UN’s office for disaster risk reduction is on his way to the Philippines and he says when it comes to the weather, we need to re-think what is normal.
“What we’re seeing is that the hazards, the typhoons, are getting stronger,” Mr Velasquez said.
Storm surges have a much more devastating effect than they would have had decades ago.World Meteorological Organisation’s Michel Jarraud
“The once-in-a-lifetime typhoons are now happening once a year. So the question for us, is this the new normal for us? And if this is then what should we do to prepare?”
Countries worldwide are now trying to figure out what to do when faced with such questions.
“There’s a lot that could be done. I think what this typhoon could really do is to allow us to rethink how we do disaster risk management, not only in this region but globally,” Mr Velasquez said.
Mr Velasquez says attention also needs to turn to preventing the enormous economic cost of such disasters, especially in already poor regions.
“For the last three years, for the first time in history, we’re seeing catastrophic disasters that have been more than $2 billion in losses,” Mr Velasquez said.