ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee Considers Climate Change Impacts

6 February 2013: The 45th session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)/World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Typhoon Committee considered, inter alia, urban flood risk management, cyclone renaming, severe weather forecasting, an assessment report on the influence of climate change on tropical cyclones.

At the session, which took place from 29 January to 1 February 2013, in Hong Kong, China, the Typhoon Committee noted its new publication, “The Second Assessment Report on the Influence of Climate Change on Tropical Cyclones in the Typhoon Committee Region,” a summary and analysis of research by member States on the long-term trends of tropical cyclone activity in the western North Pacific basin. According to WMO, the region claims the world's highest tropical cyclone activity, and in 2012 alone experienced 25 events at “Tropical Storm” intensity or higher.

The report concludes that the influence of climate change on tropical cyclone activity remains uncertain, given the difficulty of distinguishing between the relative contributions of natural variations and climate change linked to human activity, and calls for further research to clarify these factors. The report also notes changes in regional tropical cyclone activity, and its review of available studies on future projections for tropical cyclone activity indicates that more models project decreases than increases in frequency, but most project an increase in intensity and precipitation rates.

During the session, the Typhoon Committee also noted the completion of a best-practice guideline in the mitigation of urban flood risks under the Urban Flood Risk Management Project, and discussed intentions to focus on the implementation plan of the Synergized Standard Operating Procedures for Coastal Multi-Hazards Early Warning System. They also discussed plans to enhance the Typhoon Committee Disaster Information System, a database of tropical cyclone-related damage data and statistics from members. In its annual review of tropical cyclone names, the Committee discontinued the use of “Washi,” the Severe Tropical Storm that devastated the Philippines in December 2012, and replaced it by “Hato.”

The Typhoon Committee offers a forum for international collaboration to build disaster resilience and mitigate the impacts of tropical cyclones in the Asia-Pacific region. The 45th session was attended by 12 of its 14 members, which include: Cambodia; China; Democratic People's Republic of Korea; Hong Kong, China; Japan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Macao, China; Malaysia; the Philippines; Republic of Korea; Singapore; Thailand; Viet Nam; and the US. [WMO Press Release] [Typhoon Committee Press Release] [Publication: Second Assessment Report on the Influence of Climate Change on Tropical Cyclones in the Typhoon Committee Region]