Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Increase in cyclone frequency in Indonesia blamed on climate change

Cyclone frequency in Indonesia in 2012 is 28 times that for the year 2002, according to the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency BNPB, with the increase attributed to the persistent impact of systemic climate change.

Indonesia straddles the equator on the edge of two important cyclone generating basins: the West Pacific basin, which can affect the eastern part of the country, and Indian Ocean basin, which affects the western and southern regions of Indonesia.

Sutopo Purwo Yuwono, spokesperson with the Indonesian disaster management agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana) BNPB told the Xinhua newsagency, "Global warming has resulted in the formation of more cumulonimbus clouds that could incite cyclones,"

Sutopo went on to predict that more cyclones would hit in Indonesia in March to April next year. Floods and landslides are expected to strike from January to March.


Most global and regional-scale modelling suggests that cyclone frequency may decrease with climate change, while the intensity of cyclones that do occur will increase. Australian scientists from CSIRO say that Cyclone frequency declining while intensity increasing across Australia. But the Indonesian data would appear to contradict this modelling for the Indonesian region. A UK Met Office report in 2011 on Climate change impact on Indonesia said with regard to Tropical Cyclones:

Most global- and regional-scale studies reviewed here suggest that the frequency of
landfalling tropical cyclones in Indonesia could decrease with climate change, for
both West Pacific cyclones, which affect the eastern part of the country, and South
Indian Ocean cyclones, which affect the western and southern regions.

However, most studies reviewed here suggest that the intensity of cyclones could
increase with climate change, particularly for the most severe storms.

In January 2012 Tropical Cyclone Iggy occurred in the Indian Ocean south of West Java, causing 16 deaths and 60 injuries, along with damage to an estimated 2,364 houses in 35 districts/cities in Java and Bali, according to the UN Reliefweb.

According to Sutopo in 2012 Cyclones accounted for 36 percent of the 1,200 disasters documented by the BNPB which included floods, landslides, droughts and forest fires.


The disaster impact on Indonesian people is substantial. Sutopo said that 60.9 million people living in 315 cities and provincial regencies were vulnerable to flooding and 124 million people in 270 cities and regencies would be at risk of landslides. He said that forest fires were expected in eight provinces during the dry season next year, along with drought in Java, Bali and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provinces from August to October.

Recent research in paleo-climate shows a link between climate change and volcanic activity: that as global average temperatures increase, there is likely to be more seismic and volcanic activity.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire in a volcanically active area. There are current indications of increased seismic activity which may result in volcanic eruptions next year. Sutopo said that in 2013 Earthquakes might affect the life of some 157 million people in 386 cities and regencies, and tsunamis would follow and affect 5 million people in 233 cities and regencies in coastal areas.

A study in February 2012 said that Climate change was predicted to escalate Tropical Cyclone damage costs for just the US and China to cause $109 billion in damages by 2100.

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