The United Nations has warned that the five-year period would be the warmest ever recorded in Thailand and throughout Asia, as temperatures rise due to greenhouse gases and the El Nino weather pattern. Asia is already in distress.
The years 2023 to 2027 are expected to be the warmest on record due to heat-trapping greenhouse gases and El Nino.
According to the World Meteorological Organisation, there is a 66% chance that global temperatures will be greater than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year. The Paris Agreement of 2016 set a goal of keeping temperature rise to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels.
Asia has been slammed by another round of excessive heat, shattering seasonal temperature records across the area and increasing concerns about the country’s ability to adapt to a fast changing climate.
Temperatures climbed again in late May, the start of the cooler monsoon season, after scorching heatwaves hit wide portions of the continent in April.
Seasonal highs have been recorded in China, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere, with experts warning that more is on the way.
Thailand reached a record 45 degrees Celsius
A World Weather Attribution consortium of scientists analysed heat and humidity levels in portions of Thailand, India and Bangladesh, as well as Thailand and Laos, and determined that they were at least 2 degrees Celsius higher as a result of underlying climate change, which has seen average global temperatures climb.
“We can’t say that these are events that we need to get used to, adapt to, and mitigate against, because they’re only going to get worse as climate change progresses,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist at Australia’s University of New South Wales.
Thailand reached a record 45 degrees Celsius, while Laos reached 42 degrees Celsius, causing severe infrastructure damage and power outages, as well as an increase in heat stroke cases.
Vietnam’s heatwave, which is forecast to linger until June, has already forced authorities to cut off street lights and ration electricity as air conditioner demand threatened to overload the power supply.
On May 6, the country recorded its hottest temperature ever, 44.1 degrees Celsius (111.4 degrees Fahrenheit), in Thanh Hoa province, roughly 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of Hanoi. On Wednesday, another province came close to breaking the record, with temperatures reaching 43.3 degrees Celsius.
On Thursday, Vietnam’s national weather forecaster warned of the dangers of residential fires caused by excessive electricity consumption. With temperatures expected to range between 35 and 39 degrees Celsius over the next two days, it also warned of the dangers of dehydration, exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Heatwave in Thailand
On Monday, Shanghai had its warmest May day in more than a century. A day later, a meteorological station in Shenzhen, China’s southern electronics industrial hub, established a May record of 40.2 degrees Celsius. The heatwave is expected to last a few more days in the south.
A blistering heatwave hit Thailand, India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia in April, causing widespread infrastructure damage and an increase in heat stroke cases. Bangladesh was also at its hottest in 50 years, with temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius.
Seasonal temperature records continued to fall throughout May, with sweltering Singapore experiencing its warmest month in 40 years.
A team of climate researchers claimed last month that the April heatwave was “30 times more likely” due of climate change, and the current temperature rise “is likely to be caused by the same factors,” according to Chaya Vaddhanaphuti of Thailand’s Chiang Mai University, who was part of the team.
India and other countries have established protocols to deal with the health concerns posed by high heat, such as providing public “cool rooms” and restricting outdoor activities, but Vaddhanaphuti believes governments must plan better, particularly to safeguard the most vulnerable people.
In an April report, researchers from the University of Bristol warned that locations with little past experience with excessive heat could be most vulnerable, naming eastern Russia as well as the Chinese capital Beijing and adjacent districts as particularly vulnerable.
However, in places such as India, where humidity is already pushing “wet bulb” temperatures to dangerous levels, planning for the worst may not be enough, according to the paper’s primary author, Vikki Thompson.
“At some point, we get to the limit of humans actually being able to cope with the temperatures,” she explained. “There may come a time when no one can deal with them.”
Scientists cautioned in another report published last week that if the globe continues on its current path of rising an average of 2.7 degrees Celsius this century, as many as 2 billion people may be exposed to deadly heat, with India likely to be the worst hit.