Yolanda-type typhoons every 2 years feared

Posted at 09/02/14 7:55 AM

MANILA - Climate change is feared to bring to the Philippines a severe weather disturbance in the magnitude of Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) every two years, according to the latest study released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In the study titled “Contributors to the Frequency of Intense Climate Disasters in Asia-Pacific Countries,” the ADB said an increase in average rainfall would amplify the frequency of strong typhoons and floods in the Philippines.

“If the increase in average precipitation hits 12 mm per month, greater increases in the frequency of these disasters can be expected: one additional event every four years in Indonesia, every two years in the Philippines and every six years in Thailand,” the ADB said.

This was based on the high-end scenario run by the ADB.

Based on a moderate scenario of an increase of 8 millimeters per month, disasters caused by heavy floods and strong typhoons could occur every three years in the Philippines.

The increase in the frequency and intensity of climate-related hazards was identified as one of the three major risks t hat could turn a natural phenomenon into a disaster.

Other risks are the exposure of growing populations to the hazards and their greater vulnerability in dealing with them.

The ADB said countries in Asia and the Pacific like the Philippines should ramp up preventive measures to avert disasters from floods, storms, droughts and heat waves, in addition to better measures in response to these events.

The study recommended the roll out of two sets of policies. First is to reduce the exposure of the population and its vulnerability.

This, the ADB said, was particularly apparent after a storm surge caused by Yolanda in 2013 killed thousands in the low-lying Philippine city of Tacloban.

Further, governments need to incorporate disaster resilience into the national growth strategies and treat it as investment. Japan invests some 5 percent of its gross domestic product in this area.

In the Philippines, the Manila flood of 2012 demonstrated the benefits of social-media alerts and early- warning systems.

Likewise, new hazard maps and an improved rain- and water-level monitoring system promoted by Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) have proved their worth.

The second set of policies involves climate-change mitigation. These are measures for achieving far greater energy efficiency and abating sizable energy losses.

The ADB added that measures for green growth that incurs costs but, on balance, benefit the economy are also needed.

The Manila-based lender encouraged investments in low-carbon technologies and renewable energy, as well as forest protection, such as adoption of carbon sequestration to capture and store emissions from industry.