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East Asia Threatened By Intensifying Tropical Cyclones

tropical cyclones in east asia

tropical cyclone

Climate Changes Influence Cyclones

Tropical cyclones are no stranger to East Asia, commonly known as typhoons in the region. Environmental studies indicate that the over the past 30 years typhoons have shown a pattern of increasing intensity largely due to the heating of the surface temperature of the South China Sea. Recent research indicates that the coastlines of Japan, Korea and China are the areas most affected by this phenomenon as the currents and increased temperature provide additional fuel to cyclones on their journey north.

Countries in South East Asia such as Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines have not experienced the same intensity of cyclones which is attributed to two factors. Surface temperate of the Pacific Ocean in combination with the Pacific Walker circulation are an integral part of this weather phenomenon. The Pacific Walker circulation is an air flow pattern which influences the water current around the South China Sea. Also known as a Walker Cell, this statistical model explains heat distribution in the tropics which are largely regulated wind and current patterns along with cyclones.

global warming threats

Changes in the air flow patterns on the Pacific Walker circulation drive the path of cyclones into the coastal waters of the South China Sea in East Asia. Research from Professor Chang-Hoi Ho from the Seoul National University suggests that global warming may influence water currents and air currents in throughout the Pacific altering weather patterns in affected regions. With the threat of increasing frequency and intensity of these cyclones, climatologists are hard at work creating statistical diagrams to predict where cyclones may make landfall in the future to provide early prevention and increased defenses to save lives.

Environmental Effects of Cyclones

In addition to the factors detailed above, scientists from Harvard University researching climate change have discovered that cyclones also spurt water into the stratosphere which increases greenhouse effects in the region. Geophysical research scientists Romps and Zhiming Kuang were inspired by an article discussing the theory that water vapor has increased in the stratosphere approximately by half over the last fifty years. Armed with infrared satellite data Romps and Kuang studied data sets of tropical climates since 1983 and discovered that cyclones are known to spray jets of water vapor in regions around the Philippines, Mexico and Central America.

typhoon diagram

Climate change theories have long since stated that increasing global temperatures would lead to increasing occurrences of cyclones and hurricanes however the possibility that cyclones are in turn accelerating climate change is an alarming revelation. Water vapors typically do not make their way into the stratosphere because the tropopause, which is the lowest portion of this atmospheric layer, is the coldest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere acting as a buffer to keep other gases out. Depending on the elevation of the cloud formations during a cyclone in these tropical regions it is possible for some streams of vapors to make their way past the tropopause into the stratosphere. Climate scientists now believe that cyclones play a larger factor in regulating humidity in tropical environments.

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