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More severe storms predicted over next decade in Taiwan

2012/06/26 18:25:20

Taipei, June 26 (CNA) More severe storms and heavy summer rains could be expected in Taiwan over the next 10 years, a team of researchers from National Taiwan University (NTU) said Tuesday, citing a recent study they conducted in the South Pacific Ocean.

The study found a correlation between rising temperatures in the South Pacific Ocean and increasing summer rainfall in Taiwan, said one of the team leaders Shen Chuan-chou, a professor at NTU's Department of Geosciences.

The Pacific Ocean is one of the largest in the world and plays an important role in climate change, he said.

In the study, the researchers analyzed strontium and calcium ratios in coral reef skeletons and used Uranium-Thorium dating methods on coral reef cores to reconstruct 350 years of sea surface temperature data in the Pacific Ocean, from 1649-1999, Shen said.

It was found that as temperatures in the South Pacific Ocean increased, it prevented cold air from settling, which weakened an atmospheric circulation system known as the Hadley's cell in the southern hemisphere, Shen explained.

With a weakened Hadley cell, water vapor tends to shift north causing an increase in summer rainfall in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, he said.

After analyzing data, the research team determined that the sea surface temperature in the South Pacific has a cycle of 14 to 19 years. The researchers concluded that if the climate change model does not change in the next 10 years, the ocean's temperature will continue to rise.

This will result in stronger storms and a greater likelihood of their occurrence in Taiwan, Shen said.

In addition, it is expected that over the next 10 years, seasonal summer rains in the region will become even more severe, he added.

Shen suggested that the Taiwan government implement disaster prevention policies and measures as soon as possible.

The research team's findings and suggestions were published June 24 in the internationally renowned scientific journal Nature Climate Change.

(By Hsu Chih-wei and C.J. Lin)