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Dry season to get drier, rainy season to get wetter in Taiwan: report

2011/11/09 20:39:49

Taipei, Nov. 9 (CNA) Taiwan's weather patterns could become ever more extreme, with "dry seasons getting drier and rainy seasons getting wetter," according to a research report released Wednesday.

The report, presented by a team headed by Hsu Huang-hsiung, a fellow at the Research Center for Environmental Changes under the country's top academic institution, Academia Sinica, said Taiwan's annual average temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees Celcius between 1911 and 2009.

The figure translates into an average of 0.14 degrees every 10 years, higher than the world average of 0.074 degrees, the report said.

In the past three decades from 1980 through 2009, the report said, the rise in Taiwan's temperature has become even faster, with the figure reaching an average of 0.29 degrees per decade or almost double the trend value for the past century.

Based on this data, the report said, Taiwan's temperature will continue to climb in the years ahead and it forecast that the country's average temperature could surge by 2 degrees to 3 degrees by the end of the 21st century.

The research team also used a number of climate models to draw up projections of future climate. These show that Taiwan could face an increased frequency of extreme high temperatures and a decreased frequency of low temperatures in the future.

These substantial increases in frequency of scorching hot days in summer would definitely have an adverse impact on energy supplies, health care and agricultural development, the report said.

According to the report, precipitation could also become more extreme in the coming decades, with severe drought in winter and torrential rain in summer.

Over the next century, the team forecast, the average winter rainfall could decrease by between 3 percent and 22 percent while summer precipitation could pick up by between 2 and 26 percent.

Hsu said these drastic climate changes could be attributed to both natural and human-induced factors.

"As natural factors such as volcanic eruptions and solar variations are uncontrollable, we can only focus our efforts on human-induced factors by reducing carbon emissions and searching for alternative sources of energy," Hsu said.

His team comprises academics and experts from Academic Sinica's Research Center for Environmental Changes, the Central Weather Bureau, National Taiwan University and National Taiwan Normal University.

The team spent one year completing its report on Taiwan's climatic changes over the past century.

To minimize possible damage that might arise from extreme weather and climate changes, Hsu said the government should take more active steps to deal with water resource management and flood prevention and control.

As fewer typhoons hit Taiwan this season, the water level at the Tsengwen Reservoir in southern Taiwan has fallen to an eight-year low while water levels at other reservoirs are also barely sufficient, which Hsu said means that Taiwan could face yet another crisis of water shortages in the coming months.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and Sofia Wu)