Tuesday, 24 April 2007

More heat, more floods, more cold

More heat, more floods, more cold

Climate change could see the number of days with temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius or more triple, a scientist warned yesterday.

It was also likely to have a dramatic effect on the Chao Phya river and floods in Bangkok.
Dr Anon Sanitwong na Ayutthaya told a climate-change seminar yesterday the country's weather would become more extreme in coming decades.

Anon expected global warming to increase Chao Phya River levels by as much as 40 per cent in coming years. Higher tides would add to the flooding problems faced by the Central plains and greater-Bangkok.

Anon is the director of the Southeast Asian bureau of SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training, or START, based at Chulalongkorn University. He predicted the country would soon swelter in 33-degree-plus heat for as many as 60 days a year. The hottest place was likely to be Uthai Thani, which is located in a basin. Nakhon Sawan would be the next warmest. But Khon Kaen, Sakon Nakhon and Chai Nat would be least affected.

Anon cited a climate model predicting weather events from 30 years to 80 years hence.
Interestingly, cool days were also expected to increase. Thailand could expect between 30 to 40 days a year below 26C. Currently, about 20 to 30 days are below this mark.

The west coast would be coolest, thanks to increased rainfall. And provinces in mountain areas could suffer problems.

He said climate change would not affect Thailand as it had sub-Saharan Africa, where increased temperatures melted mountain snow and ice, which had flooded rivers and accelerated the breeding of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

But, he warned the country to put in place policies to cope with climate change.
But, in Chiang Rai, rice crops would increase 15 per cent because it would receive more rain, he said.

Meanwhile, Meteorological Department chief Supareuk Tansriratanawong said this hot season would be more extreme in many areas, especially the North, Northeast and Central Thailand. Temperatures could hit 42 degrees in Nong Khai and Lampang. He said these temperatures would be common until mid-May.

Supareuk revised earlier department predictions the hottest period this year would be between April 25 and April 26. A cool front from China would bring rainstorms and hail to the North and Northeast, easing temperatures.

In the meantime, the heat has seen power usage in Bangkok soar.
Data shows last month the city gobbled up 7,522 megawatts of electricity, outpacing consumption at the same time last year by 2 per cent. By comparison, the city consumed 6,654 megawatts in January and 7,032 in February.

In the North, temperatures have exceeded 40C.
The department's northern office said Lampang's Muang district recorded temperatures of 42 degrees while other provinces reported between 37 and 41C.

Office spokesman Rakchai Srinuan said temperatures were between four degrees to six degrees warmer than last year.

Chiang Mai and Lamphun were at risk of more forest fires, which have cast a pall over the region since March and made thousands sick. Doi Inthanon National Park chief Anan Son-ngai said rangers were on a 24-hour alert.

Artificial rainmaking is planned to help ease the heat.

Dr Parithat Silpakit of Suan Prung Mental Hospital warned that the punishing heat could drive over-stressed residents to suicide.

In Kalasin, which saw 38C heat yesterday, farmers were advised to install cooling fans in pig enclosures to avoid stock suffering heatstroke and diarrhoea.


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