Asia Minute: Storms and Climate Change in Indonesia
A powerful tropical cyclone cut its way across the Asia Pacific last week. Indonesia was hit particularly hard, and scientists there say climate change played a role.
Ten tropical cyclones have hit land in Indonesia over the past 13 years, and the strongest one struck last week.
Cyclone Seroja triggered floods and landslides in the southeastern part of the island chain, killing nearly 200 people and perhaps many more while leaving thousands homeless.
As it barreled across East Timor and then to Australia’s coast, scientists in Indonesia analyzed what made this storm different.
They say a big part of the story is climate change, including a dangerous rise in ocean temperatures.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said the destructive force of this storm was intensified by ocean waters whose temperatures have spiked by a little more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit in a relatively short period of time.
Agency chief Dwikorita Karnawati says powerful storms in Indonesia have increased in both frequency and strength since 2017, from once every two to four years to once or twice every year.
Earlier this year, tens of thousands of people were displaced by storms and floods in Kalimantan Province on the island of Borneo.
According to the United Nations, Indonesia remains one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.