Asia suffered its hottest year on record in 2020, the United Nations said on Tuesday, 26 October ahead of the COP26 summit, with extreme weather taking a heavy toll on the continent’s development.
‘Extreme weather and climate change impacts across Asia in 2020 caused the loss of life of thousands of people, displaced millions of others and cost hundreds of billions of dollars, while wreaking a heavy toll on infrastructure and ecosystems,’ the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said.
Increased heat and humidity are forecast to lead to an effective loss of outdoor working hours across the continent, with a potential cost of many billions of dollars.
‘Weather and climate hazards, especially floods, storms and droughts, had significant impacts in many countries of the region,’ said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.
Many weather- and climate-related displacements in Asia are prolonged, with people unable to return home or integrate locally, the report said.
In 2020, floods and storms affected approximately 50 million people in Asia, resulting in more than 5,000 fatalities.
This is below the annual average of the last two decades (158 million people affected and about 15,500 fatalities) and ‘is testimony to the success of early warning systems in many countries in Asia’, with around seven in ten people covered.
Asia’s warmest year on record saw the mean temperature at 1.39°C above the 1981–2010 average.
In 2020, average sea surface temperatures reached record highs in the Indian, Pacific and Arctic oceans. Sea surface temperatures and ocean warming in and around Asia are increasing more than the global average. They have been warming at more than triple the average in the Arabian Sea, and parts of the Arctic Ocean.
‘This has major ramifications for global sea level, regional water cycles and local hazards such as landslides and avalanches.’
For more information, go to www.straitstimes.com/asia/asia-suffered-hottest-year-on-record-in-2020-un