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Longer summers, stronger typhoons warned in Taiwan climate change report

05/09/2024 09:58 PM
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The conference for the official launch of Taiwan's Climate Change Scientific Report 2024 is held Wedenesday in Taipei, attended by (front row) Deputy Minister of Environment Shih Wen-chen (third from the right), Deputy Minister of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Lin Minn-tson (third from the left), and report editors-in-chief Hsu Huang-hsiung (second from the right) and Li Ming-hsu (second from the left). Photo courtesy of the NSTC.
The conference for the official launch of Taiwan's Climate Change Scientific Report 2024 is held Wedenesday in Taipei, attended by (front row) Deputy Minister of Environment Shih Wen-chen (third from the right), Deputy Minister of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Lin Minn-tson (third from the left), and report editors-in-chief Hsu Huang-hsiung (second from the right) and Li Ming-hsu (second from the left). Photo courtesy of the NSTC.

Taipei, May 9 (CNA) If global warming continues without effective control measures being taken, the country could face seven-month long summers and fewer but more severe typhoons, according to a national scientific report on climate change published in Taiwan on Wednesday.

The Climate Change Scientific Report 2024, published by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and the Ministry of Environment, warned that without effective efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Taiwan could face summers lasting as long as seven months by the end of the century, under the worst-case scenario.

Hsu Huang-hsiung (許晃雄), distinguished research fellow at the Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, one of the two editors-in-chief of the report, warned that under the worst-case scenario, temperatures in lowland areas could rise to 36 degrees Celsius for an additional 75 days per year by the end of the century.

Visitors to Taipei's Huashan Cultural Park camp out for a picnic in this CNA file photo
Visitors to Taipei's Huashan Cultural Park camp out for a picnic in this CNA file photo
Kaohsiung residents enjoy a day out in this CNA file photo
Kaohsiung residents enjoy a day out in this CNA file photo

According to the report, the number of typhoons affecting Taiwan is projected to decrease from four to five a year to three to four a year by mid-century and reach one to two a year by the end of the century.

However, the report also warns that under the worst greenhouse gas emissions scenario, severe typhoons would intensify, move closer to the west, and pose greater risks to the region.

In this context, the worst-case scenario is defined as continuing with a "business as usual" approach, or a socioeconomic future that is still heavily reliant on fossil fuel development.

On the impact side, there would be more consecutive dry days (CDD), raising the risk of droughts, while torrential rain would become the new norm, with extreme heavy rain events that happened once every 50 years in the past occurring once every 10 years in the near future, according to a joint press statement released by NSTC and the ministry.

The report also estimates that if temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius, sea levels could increase by 34.5 cm in Taiwan. This could lead to 2-meter floods in Taoyuan City, Hsinchu County and City, Yunlin County, and Chiayi County, according to the report.

In terms of the percentage of areas that could be affected by flooding, Yunlin County, Tainan City, Changhua County and Keelung City would face the biggest challenge. These areas could experience a flooded area of 4.3 percent, 3.29 percent, 2.89 percent, and 2.26 percent, respectively, in the event of a 2-degree rise in temperature, according to the report.

The report estimates that rice production in Taiwan would fall by 13 percent and 18 percent by mid-century and the end of the century, respectively, while corn production would drop 10 percent and 17 percent.

The cover page of Climate Change Scientific Report 2024, which is available for download from the MOENV and NSTC official websites.
The cover page of Climate Change Scientific Report 2024, which is available for download from the MOENV and NSTC official websites.

Ecology-wise, the suitable altitude for most of Taiwan's natural forests is expected to increase by 173 meters, leading to the loss of more than 80 percent of suitable distribution areas, the press release said.

Climate change would also have a negative impact on public health, with the report indicating dengue fever and other vector-borne illnesses would become more prevalent, with the fatality rate for respiratory diseases also increasing.

The 600-page report, edited by Hsu and Li Ming-hsu (李明旭), professor of hydrological and oceanic sciences at National Central University, is the collective work of 68 scholars and took more than 18 months to complete.

It also lists the gaps in scientific research and adjustment measures that require the government to take action.

"The report provides a scientific guide and the best reference for ministries, local governments, and even industries to draw up climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies," said Deputy Minister of Environment Shih Wen-chen (施文真).

Taiwan published national-level climate change reports in 2011 and 2017; the 2024 report is the first since the Climate Change Response Act was passed in 2023, which requires central and local governments to propose climate mitigation and adaptation action plans.

(By Alison Hsiao)

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