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Global warming likely triggered S. Korea's heavy rainfall: experts

All News 09:20 August 04, 2020

SEOUL, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- The heavy rain that has pounded South Korea in the past few weeks likely stems from global warming, weather and environment experts said Tuesday.

The country's southern region saw one of its longest monsoon seasons this year. Rain fell for 49 days between June 10 and July 28 in the longest monsoon season on the southern resort island of Jeju and for 38 days between June 24 and July 31 in the southern region.

In the central region, which has seen the biggest damage during the recent rainfall, rain has been falling for the past 41 days. Its longest monsoon season was 49 days in 2013.

In addition to the long duration, precipitation has been heavy, with more than 300 millimeters of rain soaking Seoul and Gyeonggi Province in less than 48 hours between Saturday and Monday.

Passengers leave their cars after heavy rain floods a street in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, on Aug. 3, 2020. (Yonhap)

Experts said this year's weather conditions likely come from global warming, as it caused more ice and frost to melt, exposing land to act as an "absorbing plate" for sunlight. This caused warm air to build up and stay, pushing cold air currents to northeast Asia.

"Climate change in the arctic and Siberia led to pouring rain in East Asia, including South Korea, like a butterfly effect," said an official at the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).

Experts said while scientists have yet to determine the exact cause of hyperthermal events in East Siberia, it is likely linked to global warming.

"The Arctic thawed, narrowing the temperature gap between the North Pole and the middle latitude, and eventually triggered a cold wave to flow over to the middle latitude. Meanwhile, as high pressure weakened, the seasonal rain front could not move northward and has been stuck in the central region of the Korean Peninsula," said Lee Seung-ho, a geography professor at Seoul-based Konkuk University. "The fundamental reason behind all of this is global warming."

Lee stressed that these changes have made it more difficult to predict weather compared with previous years.

A KMA official explained that this year's unusually long monsoon came as the temperature in the North Pole climbed, adding that "while it is hard to simply define the cause as global warming, climate change is affecting regions in different ways."

Jamsu Bridge, which links Seoul's southern and northern parts over the Han River, is partially submerged following heavy rain on Aug. 3, 2020. (Yonhap)


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