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  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 3:50am
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CLIMATE CHANGE

Get used to heatwaves and floods, say Hong Kong Observatory experts

Observatory says city will warm up by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, as sea levels rise

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 5:06am

The chilly temperatures that the city experienced last winter are unlikely to ever happen again, while heatwaves and floods from storm surges are expected to become more and more frequent.

That's according to Hong Kong Observatory officials, who made the warnings at a climate change forum yesterday.

Lee Sai-ming, senior scientific officer at the Observatory, said that according to its records the average daily temperature in the city had risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius since 1913.

Lee estimated that as global warming increased, there would likely be only one day per year when the temperature dropped below 12 degrees. On average, temperatures were predicted to rise in Hong Kong by 4 degrees by 2100. "Days where the temperature drops below 4 degrees will not be seen again. Such cold days will now only occur every 163 years," Lee said.

In contrast, days where temperatures reach 35 degrees or above, which used to occur about every 35 years in the last century, now occur every four to five years.

The forum was organised to discuss the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest report. The IPCC said that data indicating that global warming is the result of the carbon dioxide-producing activities of humans is now 95 per cent confirmed.

An immediate result of continued global warming will be the melting of the polar ice caps, the UN body found, leading to a rise in sea levels. If no effort is made to curb current carbon dioxide emissions, it is likely that before 2050 the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free for at least part of the summer months, the IPCC found.

The findings were shared by Edwin Lai Sau-tak, an assistant director at the Observatory.

"By [2050], we may see passenger cruise tours able to map routes crossing the North Pole," Lai said.

"Global sea levels are projected to rise by between 0.26 metres and 0.82 metres [if carbon emissions are not curbed] by the end of 21st century," he said.

On average, the mean sea level in Victoria Harbour has risen at a rate of 29 millimetres per decade since 1954, according to Observatory records.

"A major impact of the mean sea-level rise is an increase in sea flooding from storm surges caused by tropical cyclones. These extreme sea levels in Victoria Harbour, which now occur about every 50 years, may occur every year by 2100," Lai said.

Last year the Observatory issued 11 cold weather warnings - with the longest cold spell lasting 139 hours, from January 21 to 27. There were 21 days last year when the temperature went below 12 degrees. Nineteen very hot weather warnings were issued last year, with the longest heatwave lasting for 124 hours from July 7 to 12. There were 21 days when the temperature was higher than 33 degrees.

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honeybeeblaze.frolics
Climate change makes the water cycle more extreme. Higher evaporation rates can make heavy rainstorms heavier, and droughts deeper and longer. Carbon pollution puts the weather on steroids. It greatly increases our risk of extreme weather like heavy storms, droughts, and heat waves. I am a NAUI Diver, Snow Skier, Majorette and an Outdoor Mountain hiker; fisher-woman; I noticed a huge change in the weather in 1988 from a Pennsylvania drought, my father was a farmer and insturcted on farming all over the world; he noted the weather patterns were drastic, at an early stage; I survived the first "Super Storm" Hurricane Hugo 1989; it was only expected to a windspeed of 115mph and the locals of South Carolina never experience 160 mph and were ":mift" to this happening "out of the blue!" Weather, Earth, Water changes are the Real-it-Tea!
joyalsofi
""Global sea levels are projected to rise by between 0.26 metres and 0.82 metres [if carbon emissions are not curbed] by the end of 21st century," he said." Predicted by whom?
There are other predictions, for example, "the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Research released a paper that made a stark forecast: For every 1 degree Celsius of temperature increase, the world will eventually experience a 2.3-meter increase in sea level." So why is the HK observatory underestimating the devastation that will occur and why is it not asking for steps to be taken to protect Hong Kong people from this? Several steps need to be taken immediately, and resources put into mitigating the damage, such as an evacuation plan when power is disrupted when the power plants are underwater and that includes the nearby Daya Bay Nuclear plant. What good is a bridge to Zhuhai or a third runway if it or its approaches are underwater?
And then there is the small matter of lack of clean water and food when transport is disrupted.
Increased storms, both in number and severity are the direct result of a warming planet. Why do our leaders focus on the economy, a man-made construct, rather than the much more serious reality that nature will throw at us if we humans don't stop our destruction of the only planet we have?
asiaseen
The Observatory staff are not fit for purpose
dienw
This is more rubbish talk by HKO (if correctly reported by SCMP - who also report a lot of rubbish about weather and typhoons). Storm surges occur in HK if a typhoon passes close by. The damage is done if the typhoon hits at high tide. It follows from this report that HKO thinks there will be more typhoons hitting at high tide time. How they can now predict that more typhoons will hit at high tide than before, I have no idea. Also, I believe the number of typhoons in the NW Pacific has been decreasing over recent years, certainly the ones affecting Hong Kong have. In any event, storm surges aren't caused by global warming, they're caused by typhoons and also occasionally by the effect of strong monsoons.
dienw
However, don't hold your breath about Government taking any action to protect low lying HK communities such as Tai O and Nam Wai from the coming floods.
anson
Well that's it then. If the HKO says we will never have cold days again then I'm off to buy my thermal underwear.
fsk999
Where is the oldest weather station in HK not affected by urbanisation and the heat island effect? And what do the temperature readings over the decades actually show?
 
 
 
 
 

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