Dry fields and floods mark odd year
‘Abnormal’ may be the only word to describe this year’s global weather patterns.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's State of the Climate report has been released.
It shows record-breaking worldwide heat has given way to severe seasonal flooding across Asia, putting lives at risk in China, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
India’s Brahmaputra River has burst its banks and is now at danger levels, flooding hundreds of villages in Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and other northern states.
Flooding rains have forced nearly 1.2 million people to move to camps in Assam, and displaced millions more across the country.
In China, monsoons have caused $22 billion of damage so far, killing more than 500 people, destroying over 145,000 homes and inundating 21,000 sq miles of farmland.
The Chinese ministry of civil affairs says hundreds of thousands of displaced people need basic assistance, after 150 towns and cities suffered record rainfall.
Wuhan, the Hebei state capital, was flooded earlier this year after drainage system and flood controls failed.
Experts have blamed much of the damage on the city’s rapid expansion in the past 20 years, which wiped out many small lakes and wetlands that used to store water.
Meanwhile, 14 of Nepal’s 75 districts have been affected by flash-floods and landslides.
Nepal’s wet weather death toll is at 54, while tens of thousands of people are still living in tents set up after devastating earthquakes last year.
Meteorologists say the 2016 Asian monsoon has been the strongest in several years.
A WMO committee is currently looking at reports of a 54°C temperature recorded in Kuwait in July, which may be the new highest temperature for as for the entire eastern hemisphere.
Climatologists say there will be more heatwaves.
“The length, frequency and intensity of heatwaves will likely increase further during this century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” the WMO said.
They predict that a fairly weak La Niña will follow this year’s strong El Niño phenomenon.
Other notable findings from the State of the Climate report include:
- Greenhouse gases were the highest on record. Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, rose to new record high values during 2015. The 2015 average global CO2 concentration was 399.4 parts per million (ppm), an increase of 2.2 ppm compared with 2014.
- Global surface temperature was the highest on record. Aided by the strong El Niño, the 2015 annual global surface temperature was 0.42°–0.46°C above the 1981–2010 average, surpassing the previous record set in 2014.
- Sea surface temperature was the highest on record. The globally averaged sea surface temperature was 0.33°–0.39°C above average, breaking the previous mark set in 2014.
- Global upper ocean heat content highest on record. Upper ocean heat content exceeded the record set in 2014, reflecting the continuing accumulation of heat in the ocean’s top layers.
- Global sea level rose to a new record high in 2015. It measured about 70 mm higher than that observed in 1993, when satellite record-keeping for global sea level rise began.
- Tropical cyclones were well above average, overall. There were 101 tropical cyclones total across all ocean basins in 2015, well above the 1981-2010 average of 82 storms. The eastern/central Pacific had 26 named storms, the most since 1992. The North Atlantic, in contrast, had fewer storms than most years during the last two decades.
- The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low. The Arctic land surface temperature in 2015 was 1.2°C above the 1981-2010 average, tying 2007 and 2011 as the highest on record. The maximum Arctic sea ice extent reached in February 2015 was the smallest in the 37-year satellite record, while the minimum sea ice extent that September was the fourth lowest on record.