It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Super-Extreme" Weather in Indonesia

Jakarta Globe, August 19 2010:
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.

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.”
Mongabay.com August 16, 2010:
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).

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”.

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.

Of course, coral mortality leads to reduced fish catches, too.

5 comments:

Steve Bloom said...

A former Met Office head weighs in on the Pakistan event, saying this one was (is) no aberration.

Alexander Ac said...

Deluges after deluge... the other one is Nigeria, BBC reports:

"Nigeria warns of nation-wide cholera threat"

"The health ministry blames the spread of the disease on heavy seasonal rains and the scarcity of clean water and proper sanitation."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11093831

Alex

Dean said...

Are there any stats for the Russian event? I hesitate to use the phrase "heat wave" since it was so far beyond what we usually think of a heat wave being. Seems like they had 60+ consecutive days above average, many 20 degrees F above avg, and a few 30 above. I would be interested in stats of that type for this and other extreme events.

And is anybody doing a climate extremes index globally?

Steve Bloom said...

The description of the recent Bolivian cold snap in this Nature article makes it sound like yet another extreme blocking event:

"The blame lies, at least indirectly, with a mass of Antarctic air that settled over the Southern Cone of South America for most of July. The prolonged cold snap has also been linked to the deaths of at least 550 penguins along the coasts of Brazil and thousands of cattle in Paraguay and Brazil, as well as hundreds of people in the region.

"Water temperatures in Bolivian rivers that normally register about 15˚C during the day fell to as low as 4˚C.

"Hugo Mamani, head of forecasting at Senamhi, Bolivia's national weather centre, confirms that the air temperature in the city of Santa Cruz fell to 4˚C this July, a low beaten only by a record of 2.5˚C in 1955."

Meanwhile, it looks as if a severe Arctic Dipole pattern (a strong high over the Canadian Archipelago combined with lows on the Siberian/Atlantic side) is setting up for the next couple of weeks. The effect on the sea ice will be interesting to see.

Steve Bloom said...

A current Beeb headline: "South Pakistan floods displace a million in 48 hours"

If only they had been clever enough to be rich, they could have avoided all of this.