Extreme Weather Events in the Regime of Warming Environment: Early Warning System and Sustainable Development

U.C. Mohanty

School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Science, IIT Bhubaneswar,
Bhubaneswar-751007,Odisha, India


It has been well established by the IPCC assessment reports that the countries of the Asia Pacific region are vulnerable to extremes of normal climatic variability. Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and magnitude of some extreme weather events and disasters in the warming environment. The types and strength of these events vary from region to region and many developing countries are likely to be affected by such extreme events. For example the number of tropical cyclones (TCs) over all the basins may not be increased but their severity has increased and reached a category of 4 to 5. Also, the last 100 years monsoon rainfall records show that the frequency and magnitude of excess (deficit) rainfall epochs has been increased (decreased) leading to floods and draughts. Many of the developing countries are highly vulnerable and worst affected regions due to such extreme weather events. These events have direct as well as indirect impact on society, industry, economy, health, hydrology and agricultural sectors.

Adaptation to climate change is dependent on current adaptive capacity and the effective mitigation strategies that are being pursued by developing countries. Investments in developing countries are more focused on recovery from a disaster than establishment of the early warning systems and long-term capacity building. Extreme climatic events create a spiral of debt burden on developing countries. Increased capacity building to manage extreme weather events can reduce the magnitude of economic, social and human damage and eventually, investments, in terms of borrowing money from the lending agencies. Vulnerability to extreme weather events, disaster management and adaptation must be the part of long-term sustainable development planning in developing countries. In such scenarios the development of effective scientific tools for early warning systems, timely dissemination and planned disaster management will substantially reduce the loss of life and properties and will help in planning sustainable development. As an example : recent very severe cyclone Phailin in October 2013 over Bay of Bengal is illustrated.

Keywords: Developing countries, Extreme weather events and Sustainable development.