While we are in-between monsoons, the intensity of the thunderstorms have been anything but normal.
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Although Malaysia is often known for hot weather and the occasional rain, the recent weather we face is quite unusual.
The extremely hot days and sudden vengeful storms in the evening have caused shocking destruction with its strength. From destroyed hawker stalls to broken tempered glass, the storms feel wrathful.
Is this normal?
According to Professor Dr Fredolin Tangang, Chairperson of Department of Earth Sciences and Environment at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, we are currently in the inter-monsoon season. This is between when the northest monsoon has just ended in March and before the southwest monsoon begins in early June.
This particular period is conducive for a natural phenomenon called atomospheric deep convection to happen, which is when calm winds aloft meet with plenty of heat and moisture.
Since Kuala Lumpur is a heat island (where heat is trapped in the area due to urban activity), the hot and moist air rising can trigger deep convection, resulting in all kinds of shocking weather such as strong thunderstorms, flash floods, and even hail.
This unusual crisis is all thanks to climate change.
Although it’s a natural phenomenon, the intensity of such weather patterns have been exacerbated due to climate change.
Prof Tangang notes that extreme rainfall has increased by 35% in Kuala Lumpur over the past 30 years, which can be traced back to both urbanisation and climate change.
Dr Renard Siew, Climate Change Advisor to the Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS), explains that rising global temperatures also mean that there’s more moisture in the air.
In fact, warmer weather conditions (as a result of global warming) can hold 4% more water vapour in the atmosphere– which explains why Malaysian weather has become hotter and more humid than ever!
Still, this increasing temperature leads to another phenomena called rainbombs, which happens when rising hot air mixes with rain drops in the atmosphere.
This lowers the air temperature rapidly and the cooled air quickly sinks, gathering speed and pulling the rain with it into a forceful downpour over a small area. The storm hits fast and hard, with strong winds accompanying the torrential rain.
Brace yourselves… Even more crazy weather is coming.
Prof Tangang also cautions that thunderstorms will likely get stronger and more intense. When global temperatures increase, it means that there will be more heat and moisture in the air, which leads to triggering more extreme weather.
Dr Renard Siew concurrs and notes that exreme weather is getting more frequent.
Extreme weather events used to cover only 0.1% of the Earth’s surface but thaat number has increased by about 14% in the last couple of decades.Dr Renard Siew to TRP
While other countries such as Australia experiences wildfires, our geographic location determines that we will be most affected by weather phenomenon such as cyclones and stronger storms. (And we certainly have!)
While we can always continue to discuss climate change in the context of reducing carbon emissions, Dr Renard cautions that we must also talk about adaptation to these more frequent extreme weather phenomenons that can cause untold damage.
This is only the beginning. We should be ready to embrace and prepare ourselves for much worse conditions.Dr Renard Siew to TRP
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.