KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — Malaysia has been experiencing erratic weather patterns of late, some of which it has never witnessed before in history.
As a country sitting close to the equator, Malaysia is accustomed to the consistency of a tropical climate. Temperatures generally average 27 degrees Celsius and its humidity level is typically 70 to 90 per cent.
However, in the past year, it has experienced scorching heat reaching 41 degrees Celcius, an unusual amount of rainfall during the monsoon season that resulted in severe flooding in several states, atypical 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 research conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia(UKM) revealed that Malaysia has been growing warmer since 40 years ago 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 degrees Celsius with a signifivant rise in the 1990s.
A warmer globe has also contributed to the polar caps melting, especially in the Artic zone. This in turn has a domino effect on global weather patterns, including that 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 Director of the National Antartic Research Centre Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah believed that there was nothing peculiar about the weather changes experienced by Malaysia.
Azizan, who is also a meteorologist, said that it was the nature of 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 heay rain came simultaneously with the king tide.
“It is therefore 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 said to Bernama in an interview, recently.
This weather change is linked to the middle latitudes, which causes wind surges. The colder temperature in Kelantan recently was due to a cold surge from Siberia.
The atmospheric pressure at the Siberian highlands increases while the pressure on the western side of the Pacific Ocean decreases. This drove cold winds from the higher-pressure regions of Siberia towards the west of the Pacific Ocean.
At least seven surges occur during a monsoon season and this affected Malaysia, resulting in rain or drought.
“When it is hot here and cold there, more wind surges will head our way. Not all the surges will bring rain.
“There is a cold surge this month (February) that does not bring rain. In fact, the weather here is so hot and dry that forests are on fire. Some attribute it to global warming even though no clouds can form at this time,” he explained.
THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT
It has long been acknowledged that industrialisation, fossil fuel combustion and rampant deforestation have heavily contributed to greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately, global climate changes.
Although climate changes affect the entire world, those who live in tropical climates 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 rays that can cause skin cancer,” said the Director of the Tropical Climate Change System Research Centre of UKM Dr Mohd Shahrul Mohd Nadzir.
The warmer conditions will also lead to more evaporation and increase the frequency of downpours. Heavy rain will cause rivers and lakes to overflow, leading to flooding.
However, he said, the solution to flooding was more dependent on how humankind would deal with the problem of water pollution and land usage.