Asia remained the world’s most disaster-affected region in 2023 due to weather, climate and water-related hazards. Storms and floods have hit the hardest, a new report published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Tuesday reveals. Following close on the heels of the study of climate change in Europe, published by WMO on Monday, the State of the Climate in Asia 2023 report highlighted the accelerating rate of climate change across several indicators such as surface temperature, glacier retreat, sea level rise and more.

“The report’s conclusions are sobering. Many countries in the region experienced their hottest year on record in 2023, along with a barrage of extreme conditions, from droughts and heatwaves to floods and storms,” said Celeste Saulo, WMO Secretary-General. Climate change has exacerbated the frequency and severity of such events that profoundly impact societies, economies, and, most importantly, human lives, she underscored.

With the warming trend almost doubling since the period from 1960–1990, Asia is heating up faster than the global average, with increased casualties and economic losses from floods, storms, and more severe heatwaves.

In 2023, sea-surface temperatures in the northwest Pacific Ocean were the highest on record. Even the Arctic Ocean suffered a marine heatwave. In many areas of the region, including the Arabian Sea, the southern Kara Sea, and the southeastern Laptev Sea, the sea surface is warming more than three times faster than globally. The Barents Sea was identified by the report as a “climate change hotspot”.

Driven by thermal expansion and the melting of glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets, sea level continued to rise globally. However, in Asia, rates were higher than the global mean over 1993–2023. Last year, the continent (just to vary the language) saw 79 water hazard-related disasters, with over 80 per cent linked to floods and storms, resulting in over 2,000 fatalities and affecting nine million people directly, according to the Emergency Events Database.

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Source: The UN

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