The world’s biggest continent of Asia suffered the hottest year on record in 2020, says the United Nations ahead of the Conference of Parties-26 (COP26) summit, with extreme weather taking a heavy toll on development across the boundaries.
The mean temperature pushed 1.39C above the 1981-2010 average, according to a report by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.
It said every part of the region had been affected with the 38C registered at Verkhoyansk in Russia recorded provisionally as the highest known temperature anywhere north of the Arctic Circle.
“Sustainable development is threatened, with food and water insecurity, health risks and environmental degradation on the rise.”
The report comes days before CoP26, the UN climate change conference being held in Glasgow from Sunday 31 October to November 12.
The report also laid bare the total annual average losses due to climate-related hazards.
China suffered an estimated $238bn, followed by India at $87bn, Japan with $83bn and South Korea on $24bn.
In 2020, average sea surface temperatures reached record high values in the Indian, Pacific and Arctic Oceans.
Sea surface temperatures and ocean warming in and around Asia are increasing more than the global average.
They have been warming at more than triple the average in the Arabian sea, and parts of the Arctic Ocean.
Arctic sea ice minimum extent (after the summer melt) in 2020 was the second lowest on the satellite record since 1979.
There are approximately 100,000 square kilometres of glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau and in the Himalayas - the largest volumes of ice outside the polar regions and the source of 10 major Asian rivers.
“Glacier retreat is accelerating and it is projected that glacier mass will decrease by 20 percent to 40 percent by 2050, affecting the lives and livelihoods of about 750 million people in the region,” the report said.
“This has major ramifications for global sea level, regional water cycles and local hazards such as landslides and avalanches.”
A quarter of Asia’s mangroves are in Bangladesh. However, the tropical storm-exposed country’s mangroves decreased by 19 percent from 1992 to 2019, the report said.
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