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Looming climate risks on Korean peninsula

Posted July. 17, 2021 07:58,   

Updated July. 17, 2021 07:58


The planet is sickening due to climate change. Record-breaking heat waves are roaring across the west coast of North America. More than 800,000 residents have been left displaced in China’s Sichuan since heavy rain started pouring last Friday. Is there any likelihood of such extreme weather events occurring on the Korean peninsula this summer?

Woo Jin-kyu, a weather forecaster of the Korea Meteorological Administration in charge of sharing weather analysis and forecasts in a regular briefing of the agency, warned that torrential downpours and heat waves have only intensified over recent years on the Korean peninsula, showing signs of the advent of unprecedented weather events. “South Korea is not a safe zone for climate abnormalities,” he said.

The monsoon season in South Korea shows a great example of red signals of climate change. Last year had the longest monsoon season ever. By contrast, this year’s started in July - the latest start in 39 years. It is a rare phenomenon that most parts of the country entered into the influence of the monsoon concurrently as a stationary front (monsoonal front) is naturally built in the south to move northward.

This year’s weather trends around the Korean peninsula are related to the ongoing worldwide event of climate change. With the peninsula blanketed with cold air for a while, it rained frequently last month, hindering a monsoonal front from moving northward. The heat wave across the west coast of North America is the main cause, explained Mr. Woo from the KMA. “Westerlies prevail in the mid-latitude zone where the peninsula is located. Air currents are supposed to flow from west to east. As a hot high pressure system stays at bay over the Pacific Ocean, cold air above the peninsula lingers,” he said. This year’s monsoonal front poured rain over China and Japan starting from May and went up to the Korean peninsula in July.

With the heat wave coming into effect, all eyes are on whether this summer will turn out to be a hotter season that the 2018 heat wave recorded as the worst year ever. Heavy rains are another threat to the peninsula this summer. Starting from July 3, it rained up to 70mm an hour, adding up to more than 300mm a day. On Thursday, localized torrential rains affected many parts of the nation in the heat wave.