WHILE the Earth is getting hotter, more frequent and intense weather events have been unfolding around the world.
Extreme weather events are defined by the United States National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine as those that produce unusually high or low amounts of rain or snow, temperature, wind or other effects.
The collective said global warming has contributed to the intensity of heat waves by increasing the likelihood of very hot days and nights. Warming the air also encourages evaporation, which can worsen droughts.
Global warming increases water vapor in the atmosphere, which can lead to more frequent heavy rain and snowstorms. It also leads to sea level rise.
This increase, along with more rainfall, can lead to destructive flooding. And while global warming will likely make hurricanes more intense, scientists don’t yet know if it will increase the number of hurricanes each year.
The effect of global warming on hurricane frequency, intensity, size, and speed remains a subject of scientific research.
Hit by at least 20 typhoons each year, the Philippines has seen its fair share of extreme weather events.
The most recent storm to hit Luzon — “Karding” (“Noru”) — is in this category, having picked up intensity so rapidly that it became a super typhoon in just six hours.
Extreme weather-related events are often short-lived and include heat waves, heavy downpours, tornadoes, tropical cyclones and flooding, Science and Technology Minister Renato Solidum Jr. said.
The former head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that these extreme events either last longer or arise from an accumulation of weather or climate events.
Located between the South China Sea and the western Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is more prone to typhoons and storm surges than some countries.
One of the world’s most disaster-prone nations, the Philippines sits on the boundary of major tectonic plates and at the center of a typhoon belt. Its islands are regularly hit by floods, typhoons, landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and droughts.
Typhoons are the most common disasters in the country, followed by earthquakes and volcanoes.
“The current climate change is being attributed to the rapid increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. Future climate change conditions are therefore projected based on various possible scenarios or changes in GHG concentrations influenced by the level of mitigation that humans might implement,” Solidum said.
“Extreme heat is a definite threat to people living in warm countries, that is, along the equator and in the tropics, which includes the Philippines. Sea level rise is also a threatening issue for coastal communities and requires a lot of attention, especially for an archipelagic country like ours,” he added.
The National Capital Region is one of several areas prone to frequent flooding. Other areas most prone to flooding are the Bicol region, particularly the Camarines Sur province; Agusan del Sur; Surigao del Sur; and the cities of Manila, Mandaluyong, Makati, Marikina, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela.
The National Academies said understanding the impact of global warming on extreme weather conditions is important because it can help inform risk management decisions.
For example, when a community knows that increased precipitation due to global warming has turned a previous “500-year flood” into a “100-year flood” (more specifically, a 1 in 500 probability flood). year, which now has a 1 in 100 chance), it can make other decisions about how to farm land, what and where to build, or whether to build a flood wall.
Extreme weather events would be influenced by many factors in addition to global warming, including seasonal and natural climate patterns such as El Niño or La Niña.