China may face more weather extremes in 2024, says expert

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This aerial photo shows sea ice forming in Lianyungang, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on December 21, 2023.

This aerial photo shows sea ice forming in Lianyungang, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on December 21, 2023.
| Photo Credit: AFP

China — grappling with one of its coldest Decembers on record — will likely have to brace for another round of scorching heat and an increase in extreme weather next year due to the El Nino weather phenomenon, a senior climate expert said.

This year has seen China lurch from some of its hottest temperatures logged since 1850 to a harsh cold snap that froze many parts of the country for close to a fortnight earlier this month.

“2024 may be hotter and it could also be a year when extreme weather may become more frequent and powerful,” Zhou Bing, China’s National Climate Center chief expert, was quoted as saying in a report by state broadcaster CCTV.

This past summer saw Beijing bake in record heat while a remote township in the country’s arid northwest logged a day of 52 degree Celsius — the hottest on record for China. Typhoons also brought record-breaking rainfall in China’s north, causing widespread flooding.

El Nino refers to the climate phenomenon that occurs every two to seven years, where waters near the equator in the Pacific become warmer than normal leading to heavy rainfall, storms or droughts in some parts of the world.

This year’s El Nino began in June and has set new temperature highs around the world. Weather experts predict El Nino could fade between April and June next year, but as its effects take months to materialise, there could be more temperature records broken in 2024.

Mr. Zhao said extreme weather could be “more pronounced” coming on the heels of El Nino.

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