2014 Starts with Bang. Extreme Weather and Climate Change
January 5, 2014
Video of Extreme weather in UK
TACLOBAN, Philippines — The typhoon that recently barreled through the Philippines has left in its wake one of the most profound resettlement crises in decades, with the number of newly homeless far exceeding the capacity of aid groups and the government to respond.
What’s noteworthy in the Philippines, though, is not where people are resettling, but rather the degree to which they are staying put. Across the disaster zone, some 90 percent are still living in the same plot they were occupying before the typhoon.
Even if survivors wanted to go elsewhere, they have few options. The typhoon-hit region has a dearth of formal evacuation shelters, and the first 1,000 government-built “bunkhouses” here don’t meet minimum international standards, according to aid workers.
Under ideal circumstances, the survivors would be rebuilding with new materials, not scraps, but help has been slow to arrive. Only 9 percent of those affected by the storm have received support for rebuilding, including nails, tarps and tents, according to the Shelter Cluster, a committee co-chaired by the United Nations’ refugee agency.
Philippine manufacturers have failed to keep up with demand for even the most basic materials, such as corrugated metal, and Manila has been slow to import the materials from elsewhere. Leyte Province, the area most directly hit by Haiyan, has so far received just 2 percent of the metal it needs for new roofs, Leyte Governor Dominic Petilla said in an interview.
Dr Keiran Hickey, a climatologist at the National University of Ireland in Galway, said: “The big issue here is the number of weather extremes we’re seeing around the world, including in the UK and in Europe but also obviously in North America as well, and the and that would fit nicely into the predictions for climate change and global warming in that we would see moseverity of these big weather events seems to be getting worsere climate disturbance, less so-called ‘normal’ weather and more extremes taking place.”
Dr Hickey said a pattern of extreme weather conditions can be identified in several places across the planet: “And Ireland is a good example of that because since November 2009, there hasn’t been a six-month period gone by without one significant weather extreme affecting the country and that’s unprecedented probably over the last 100 years.”
This year in Ireland a dry spell meant fodder for farm animals had to be imported for the first time in 50 years. Then a summer heat wave saw temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celsius for the first time in decades, only for December to bring heavy rain and flooding.
Australia is a country well used to extreme weather, but the year just gone was one for the record books. Ned Wickoll, a journalist based in Sydney, said: “So 2013 has been the hottest year on record in Australia according to the Bureau of Meteorology and this has gone back all the way to 1910 when records began. Not only did we get the hottest January 7th the day on record, we got the hottest month and the hottest season. Of course now the Bureau has confirmed the hottest year on record. It’s been sweltering in all parts of Australia at various parts of 2013 and the Bureau’s now made it official.”
But the country that suffered the most from severe weather in 2013 was undoubtedly the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan devastated the island country, leaving more than 6000 people confirmed dead and thousands more homeless.
Dr Keiran Hickey said the powerful cyclone can be linked to global warming: “One of the major drivers behind hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones – which are the same phenomenon, just in different oceans – is of course, the big driver is sea surface temperatures and obviously as the sea surface warms up, it means more energy can be pushed into these storms so the tendency is for these hurricanes and cyclones and typhoons is that some of them will get much stronger over the coming decades and that typhoon is a classic example of what can actually happen as well. And of course in a country like the Philippines where there is little coastal protection, they are very vulnerable to the impact of major storm events.”
And the Irish climatologist predicts more severe weather for 2014.
As happened in January last year, much of Australia has been enduring a sweltering heatwave over the first days of 2014, with temperatures in excess of 40°C in many areas. Meanwhile 2013 has been confirmed as the country’s hottest year on record.
LONDON, 5 January – It’s official – Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology says 2013 ranked as the country’s warmest year since records began more than a century ago, with the annual national mean temperature 1.2°C above the average.
Along the way, several new temperature records were set: the summer was the warmest on record as was Australia’s spring, while winter was ranked third in the historical warming stakes.
“The past year was characterized by persistent and widespread warmth”, says the Bureau.
“Mean temperatures across Australia have generally been well above average since September 2012. Long periods of warmer than average days have been common, with a distinct lack of cold weather.”
January 7th last year ranks as the hottest single day on record across the country, when the national daily average maximum temperature reached 40.3°C.
Later that month Sydney — usually relatively cool compared with inland areas and cities such as Darwin in the Northern Territory – smashed its own temperature record with the mercury climbing to 45.8°C. Meanwhile 31 August was the warmest winter day on record across the country.
Denying climate reality
The impact of the warming weather has been clear: though rainfall was above average in some areas and below in others, high temperatures meant devastating bush fires caught hold in many regions over the past 12 months. There were also cyclones and fierce floods with lives lost, homes destroyed and many millions of dollars of damage caused.
The Bureau of Meteorology says that overall Australia’s temperatures have gone up by 1°C over the last century, with the majority of warming occurring since 1950. It says Australia has experienced just one cooler than average year – 2011 — over the last decade: the 10-year mean temperature for 2004-2013 was 0.5°C above average.