Malaysia: Erratic weather could be the new norm

The Star 27 Feb 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has been experiencing erratic weather patterns of late, some of which have never been witnessed before.

As a country located close to the Equator, Malaysia is accustomed to the consistency of a tropical climate, with temperatures generally averaging 27°C and a humidity level of between 70% and 90%.

However, over the past year, it has experienced scorching heat reaching 41°C, an unusual amount of rainfall during the monsoon season that resulted in severe flooding in several states, a typical cold like the one Kelantan experienced recently, as well as increasing occurrences of mini tornadoes.

Numerous studies have been conducted to determine the impact of climate change throughout the world.

However, it is still difficult to ascertain the reasons for Malaysia’s highly erratic weather patterns.

A UKM research revealed that Malaysia has been growing warmer over the past 40 years and predicted that the level of rainfall would also increase.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that the earth’s surface temperature has increased from 1.1 to 6.4 °C, with a significant rise in the 1990s.

A warmer globe has also contributed to melting at the polar caps, especially in the Arctic zone. This in turn has had a domino effect on global weather patterns, including in Malaysia.

Monsoon cycles are expected to change in the future, with the El Nino phenomenon causing more droughts, flooding and heat waves.

However, Universiti Malaya’s National Antarctic Research Centre director Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah believed that there was nothing peculiar about the weather changes experienced by Malaysia.

Dr Azizan, who is a meteorologist, said it was the nature of the weather to constantly change and not remain static.

He also believed that the massive flooding in Kelantan was not a phenomenon but an annual occurrence.

“It was unprecedented because the storm and heavy rain came simultaneously with the king tide. It is not surprising for a flood to occur after for four or five days of rain exceeding 1,000mm.

“The question though is, why was the rainwater unable to flow into the sea?” he asked.

It has long been acknowledged that industrialisation, fossil fuel combustion and rampant deforestation have heavily contributed to greenhouse gas emissions and, ultimately, global climate change.

Although climate change affects the entire world, those who live in tropical regions are more likely to be susceptible to the greenhouse effect.

“Tropical countries like Malaysia are like entryways for greenhouse gases to enter the atmosphere. The thinning ozone layer and ozone holes will expose humans to harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays that can cause skin cancer,” said UKM’s Tropical Climate Change System Research Centre director Dr Mohd Shahrul Mohd Nadzir. — Bernama