Jakarta. Indonesia has been experiencing its most extreme weather conditions in recorded history, meteorologists warned on Wednesday as torrential rains continued to pound the capital.Mongabay.com August 16, 2010:
All regions across the archipelago have been experiencing abnormal and often catastrophic weather, an official from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said.
“We have reached a super-extreme level of weather this year, the first time in our history, and this is much worse than what we experienced back in 1998, when the La Nina caused extreme weather in the country,” Edvin Aldrian warned.
Edvin, who leads the climate change and air quality division at the agency, told the Jakarta Globe that a combination of a heating planet and the La Nina climate cycle were behind the unseasonable downpours.
“The combination of global warming and the La Nina phenomenon makes everything exceed normalcy,” he said, adding that global warming causes higher temperature in sea waters, and La Nina boosts humidity and the likeliness of rains.
Sea temperatures, Edvin said, were also at a level considered normal for Indonesia’s rainy season, not for the dry season. “It is about 28 to 29 [degrees] Celsius now. Normally, for August it should have been around 24 to 26 degrees.”
A large-scale bleaching event due to high ocean temperatures appears to be underway off the coast of Sumatra, an Indonesian island, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).This appears to be, at least as yet, nothing on the scale of what has happened elsewhere in terms of human impact, but is another substantial climatological anomaly. There appear to be some crop losses in Indonesia as well.
An initial survey by the conservation group's "Rapid Response Unit" of marine biologists found that 60 percent of corals were bleached. Follow up assessments "revealed one of the most rapid and severe coral mortality events ever recorded" with 80 percent of some species dying.
"It's a disappointing development particularly in light of the fact that these same corals proved resilient to other disruptions to this ecosystem, including the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004," WCS Indonesia Marine Program Director Dr. Stuart Campbell said in a statement.
Campbell, and other members of the research team, linked the event to a sharp rise in sea surface temperatures in the Andaman Sea. Temperatures reached 34 degrees Celsius (93°F)—4 degrees Celsius higher than long term averages for the area—in May 2010.
“If a similar degree of mortality is apparent at other sites in the Andaman Sea this will be the worst bleaching event ever recorded in the region,” according to Dr. Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. “The destruction of these upstream reefs means recovery is likely to take much longer than before”.
Of course, coral mortality leads to reduced fish catches, too.