High temperatures, droughts, storms, heavy rains, floods and wildfires frequently occur World Meteorological Congress focuses on extreme weather
High temperatures and droughts, storms and heavy rains, floods and wildfires… Since the beginning of this year, extreme weather has frequently ravaged many parts of the world. How to strengthen meteorological warning services and minimize the harm caused by extreme weather is an urgent task for mankind, and it is also a key topic of the 19th World Meteorological Congress that opened in Geneva, Switzerland recently.
High temperature and heavy rain disasters continue
Southeast Asia and South Asia have experienced hot weather recently. Vietnam’s temperature reached 44.1 degrees Celsius on the 6th, setting the highest record in the country. Data from the Thai Meteorological Department in April showed that the highest temperature in Tak province in the north was 44.6 degrees Celsius that month. In a town in eastern Myanmar, the temperature reached 43.8 degrees Celsius at one point recently, the highest in the area in 10 years.
In the past few days, many parts of India have been hit by heat waves. On the 21st, the highest temperature in the northern region, including the capital New Delhi, reached or exceeded 45 degrees Celsius. The temperature in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, has recently set a new record for the highest temperature since the 1960s.
According to data from the Spanish National Meteorological Service, the country’s drought and heat in April reached the highest level since 1961. The average temperature in April was 3 degrees Celsius higher than the same period in previous years, but the precipitation was only one-fifth of the same period in previous years.
The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy suffered heavy rains on the 16th and 17th of this month, causing floods and landslides, and tens of thousands of people were evacuated.
Western Canada suffered a cold spring this year, but it was followed by anomalously high temperatures. The temperature in some areas was 10 to 15 degrees Celsius higher than the average temperature at the beginning of this month, creating conditions for wildfires.
From late December last year to late March this year, California in the United States continued to suffer from historic rain and snow storms, causing flooding, flooding roads and houses, and power outages for millions of people.
Climate change has severe impacts
On the opening day of the 19th World Meteorological Congress on the 22nd, the World Meteorological Organization released the latest statistical report showing that from 1970 to 2021, there were 11,778 disasters caused by extreme weather, climate and water-related events reported around the world, resulting in more than 200 deaths. Thousands of people died, and the economic loss was as high as 4.3 trillion US dollars.
A report published in April by the British journal The Lancet pointed out that climate change has seriously affected the health of people in South America. Over the past 20 years, South America has experienced more frequent and intense hot weather. Since 2000, the number of heat-related deaths among people over 65 in South America has continued to rise.
The World Health Organization revealed in November last year that at least 15,000 people in Europe died of high temperatures that year. Europe experienced its hottest summer on record last year, with heatstroke the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the region, the WHO Regional Office for Europe said in a statement.
Maria Neira, an officer in charge of environment, climate change and health at the WHO, once said that heat waves combined with severe pollution will increase the risk of people suffering from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
In addition to the human toll, extreme weather has a major impact on agriculture. Due to high temperature and drought in 2022, according to statistics from the French National Federation of Potato Producers, the national potato production will decrease by nearly 1.5 million tons, and the related losses will reach 250 million euros.
Meteorological early warning and effective disaster reduction
In the face of increasingly frequent and harmful extreme weather, strengthening weather warnings has been proven to be an effective means of reducing harm.
World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Taalas said at the opening ceremony of this World Meteorological Congress that early warnings can save lives, and “weather warnings and disaster management make catastrophic mortality a thing of the past.”
The World Meteorological Organization pointed out that over the past half century, improved early warning and coordinated disaster management have led to a significant decline in the number of casualties caused by meteorological disasters.
Myanmar was hit by Cyclone Nargis in early May 2008, killing at least 138,000 people. Recently, the tropical cyclone “Muchha” has caused severe disasters in Myanmar, but because the authorities have established early warning and disaster management, the number of casualties has been greatly reduced compared with “Nargis”. According to the news released by the Myanmar National Management Committee on the 19th, the death toll caused by “Muchha” in Myanmar was more than 140.
Myanmar Meteorological and Hydrological Bureau spokesman Jue Lun Oo told Xinhua News Agency that before “Muchha” formed a low pressure, they had made predictions and contingency plans, and issued real-time storm warnings to the public through social media and other channels; Before “Mucha” landed in Myanmar, relevant departments and social organizations worked together to help people evacuate from dangerous areas, set up shelters in many places, and arranged rescue teams and rescue vehicles carrying food and other materials.
The World Meteorological Congress is held every four years and is the highest decision-making body of the World Meteorological Organization. The 12-day conference will last for 12 days. The main task is to adopt the World Meteorological Organization’s 2024-2027 strategic plan and promote the implementation of the United Nations Early Warning Initiative for All in the global meteorological field.
(Story by Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, May 24)