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Asia bears biggest climate-change brunt amid extreme weather: WMO

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) revealed in a report published on Tuesday that Asia bore the brunt of climate change, weather, and water-related hazards more than any other region globally last year. According to the report, floods and storms caused the majority of casualties and economic damage in 2023, while the impact of heatwaves intensified.

Asia experienced a rapid increase in temperatures, averaging nearly 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1961-90 average in 2023. Many countries in the region recorded their highest temperatures on record, accompanied by extreme weather events ranging from droughts and heatwaves to floods and storms, as stated by WMO chief Celeste Saulo. She emphasized that climate change worsened the frequency and severity of these events, characterizing the report’s findings as “sobering.”

The report identified 79 disasters linked to water-related weather hazards in Asia last year, with floods and storms comprising 80 percent of these incidents. These events resulted in over 2,000 deaths and directly affected nine million people. Notably, floods were cited as the leading cause of death in reported events in 2023.

Hong Kong encountered a record-breaking rainfall of 158.1mm (6.2 inches) in just one hour on September 7 due to a typhoon, marking the highest rainfall recorded since records began in 1884.

Furthermore, the report underscored significant glacier loss in the high mountain regions of Asia due to unprecedented high temperatures and dry conditions. Below-normal precipitation levels were observed in the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush mountain ranges in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and southwest China, leading to drought conditions in the latter.

The report also highlighted remarkably high average temperatures across western Siberia to Central Asia and from eastern China to Japan. Japan experienced its hottest summer on record in 2023.

Overall, the findings underscore the urgent need for climate action in the Asian region and globally to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and protect vulnerable communities from increasingly frequent and severe weather-related hazards.

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