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Societies need to be prepared as warmer climate promotes more extreme weather events: Prof Benjamin Horton on Channel News Asia

17 Sep 2018

As Super Typhoon Mangkhut bashes on towards the south China coast after causing death and destruction in the Philippines this weekend, warnings are spread of more extreme weather events to be expected towards the end of the year. Last week, the UN and the World Meteorological Organisation issued warnings that the chance of an El Niño event developing by the end of 2018 is as high as 70% due to unusually high temperatures. Large parts of the world experienced extremely hot weather in June and July this year. Warm weather gives warm ocean surface temperatures, which provides the energy for typhoons and hurricanes, so with warmer temperatures we may expect more extreme storms. When interviewed on Channel News Asia last week, Prof Benjamin Horton pointed out that not only are extreme weather events hard to predict, because they are historically rare, but they may also become our new normal, as warming temperatures cause them to increase in frequency.

Professor Horton also told the Straits Times last week that though Singapore is not expected to be hit by the heavy rain storms or drought that an El Nino could bring to Singapore’s neighbour countries, it could potentially lead to soaring temperatures in Singapore. The El Niño in 2016, which coincided with the warmest year on record both in Singapore and globally, not only caused new temperature records, but also disruptions in crop production, societal stress and peaking energy consumption. Prof Horton emphasises that the possibility of another El Niño in late 2018 or early 2019 will be a challenge even for the wealthiest and most developed countries in South-east Asia, but will have devastating effects for the poorest and least developed areas. While governments and societies keep must keep working on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, it is also important to prepare for extreme weather caused by the warming that is already happening.

Watch Prof Horton on Channel News Asia here  (05.15 min into the program)

Read the article in the Straits Times here