Bit­ter­sweet Ty­phoon Mangkhut

The great­est rea­son be­hind the in­crease of ty­phoons might be global warm­ing caused by an­thro­pogenic green­house gases.

China Pictorial (English) - - Front Page - Text by Zhang Yin­feng

Ty­phoon Mangkhut, re­port­edly one of the most in­tense storms in the his­tory of Guang­dong Prov­ince, landed on the coast of Tais­han in Jiang­men City with a speed of 45 me­ters per sec­ond at 5 p.m. lo­cal time on Septem­ber 16, 2018. Dur­ing the storm’s three-day jour­ney through China, nearly three mil­lion peo­ple in Guang­dong, Hainan, Hu­nan and Guizhou prov­inces and Guangxi Zhuang Au­tonomous Re­gion were af­fected by Mangkhut. Five peo­ple died, one went miss­ing and 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple were evac­u­ated.

Com­pared to Ty­phoon Hato in 2017 which had sim­i­lar wind ve­loc­ity, ca­su­al­ties and prop­erty losses caused by Mangkhut were con­sid­er­ably lower, an en­cour­ag­ing devel­op­ment for ty­phoon pre­ven­tion, dis­as­ter re­duc­tion and fu­ture relief ef­forts.

Mo­bi­liz­ing All of So­ci­ety

Most ty­phoons tend to land in early morn­ing, but Mangkhut landed in the af­ter­noon, di­rectly af­fect­ing pro­duc­tion and life. As a re­sult, for the first time since the es­tab­lish­ment of a warn­ing sig­nal sys­tem in 2000, the Guang­dong me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal depart­ment is­sued ty­phoon warn­ing sig­nals in all cities and coun­ties of the prov­ince and an­nounced the sus­pen­sion of schools, busi­nesses, mar­kets and pro­duc­tion, in­volv­ing the largest range and num­ber of peo­ple in the his­tory of Guang­dong Prov­ince.

When Mangkhut was still swelling in the Pa­cific Ocean area, the me­dia were re­port­ing on the power of the ty­phoon, and the pub­lic re­ceived emer­gency and dis­as­ter-pre­ven­tion text mes­sages. In less-de­vel­oped and re­mote moun­tain­ous ar­eas, broad­cast­ing trucks cir­cu­lated the in­for­ma­tion, and mem­bers of vil­lage com­mit­tees went doorto-door to warn vil­lagers. At Heng­shan fish­ing har­bor in Wen­cun Town, Guang­dong’s Tais­han City, more than 100 fish­ing boat crew mem­bers were re­luc­tant to dis­em­bark. They were fi­nally per­suaded just four hours be­fore the land­ing of Mangkhut.

“When the Cen­tral Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ob­ser­va­tory makes a

ty­phoon warn­ing, the ar­eas ex­pected to be af­fected start to pre­pare coun­ter­mea­sures ac­cord­ing to the pre­dicted path and in­ten­sity of the ty­phoon,” ex­plained Zhao Hui, pro­fes­sor of oceanog­ra­phy and me­te­o­rol­ogy at Guang­dong Ocean Univer­sity. “Af­ter the ty­phoon lands, main­te­nance teams at all lev­els (such as work­ers re­spon­si­ble for emer­gency re­pair of power grids and wa­ter pipes), armed po­lice of­fi­cers and sol­diers, fire­fight­ers and other per­son­nel are all on high alert.”

In ad­di­tion to the rain­storm warn­ing, the ob­ser­va­tory also is­sued a warn­ing about po­ten­tial landslides and flood­ing, cau­tion­ing some high­risk ar­eas to watch for sec­ondary dis­as­ters caused by the rain­storm. So when Mangkhut de­liv­ered heavy rains to Guangzhou, cap­i­tal of Guang­dong Prov­ince, lo­cal peo­ple were pre­pared, and ev­ery­thing was un­der con­trol.

“Long be­fore the ty­phoon landed, we knew that Mangkhut would bring heavy rains,” re­marked Qian Qifeng, a se­nior en­gi­neer at the Cen­tral Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ob­ser­va­tory, adding that resid­ual clouds of­ten re­sult in pre­cip­i­ta­tion, caus­ing some ty­phoons to make an­other run.

Stronger and More Fre­quent?

In 2018, most of the pub­lic started feel­ing that ty­phoons were be­com­ing more fre­quent. “This

year’s mon­soon sea­son was stronger com­pared to pre­vi­ous years,” ad­mit­ted Qian Qifeng. “In­deed, ty­phoons are strik­ing more fre­quently. As of Septem­ber 18, 2018, ten ty­phoons had made land­fall in China.”

As early as 2005, ex­perts in­clud­ing Amer­i­can pro­fes­sor Peter John Web­ster from the School of Earth and At­mo­spheric Sci­ence at Ge­or­gia In­ti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy noted in Sci­ence mag­a­zine that the num­ber of ty­phoons had in­creased by 80 per­cent in 30 years. In 2015, the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency an­nounced that the power dis­si­pa­tion in­dex of At­lantic hur­ri­canes had risen sig­nif­i­cantly over the past three decades. De­spite the con­tro­versy among me­te­o­rol­o­gists over fu­ture trends in the num­ber of hur­ri­canes and ty­phoons, most schol­ars agree that the dam­age caused by ty­phoons (such as floods and wind­storms) will in­crease. The In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) be­lieves that global warm­ing has con­trib­uted to ris­ing sea­wa­ter tem­per­a­tures and sea lev­els, which has pro­vided fa­vor­able con­di­tions for ty­phoons to rage. The vast ma­jor­ity of ex­perts in cli­mate sci­ence agree that the great­est rea­son be­hind the in­crease of ty­phoons is global warm­ing caused by an­thro­pogenic green­house gases.

Zhao Ang, di­rec­tor of Rock En­vi­ron­ment and En­ergy In­sti­tute, ex­plained: “The fun­da­men­tal cause of ty­phoons still puz­zles me­te­o­rol­o­gists. Af­ter more than 60 years of re­search, con­sen­sus has been reached on the nec­es­sary con­di­tions for for­ma­tion, but all of the nec­es­sary con­di­tions are still un­known. This cre­ates dif­fi­cul­ties in fore­cast­ing ty­phoons. The most ad­vanced com­puter can be used to pre­dict the track of a ty­phoon rel­a­tively ac­cu­rately, but the in­ten­sity of ty­phoon will be greatly af­fected by lo­cal warm cur­rents and is thus dif­fi­cult to pre­dict.”

The IPCC is­sued a new re­port in In­cheon, South Korea, on Oc­to­ber 8, ac­cord­ing to which it will be near im­pos­si­ble to keep global warm­ing within 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius due to on­go­ing in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion. Warm­ing of the earth more than 1.5 or even 2 de­grees Cel­sius will likely lead to dire con­se­quences. Given the ac­cu­mu­lated car­bon emis­sions, the re­port warns, “At the cur­rent rate, global warm­ing could reach 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius some­time be­tween 2030 and 2052.”

As Mangkhut ap­proached, alert mes­sages sent to res­i­dents in Guang­dong Prov­ince specif­i­cally urged peo­ple to “have rev­er­ence for the power of na­ture.” The phrase is not only meant to in­spire dis­as­ter pre­ven­tion, but also to con­sol­i­date ev­ery­day kind­ness to­wards na­ture.

Septem­ber 17, 2018: Near the Wanbo Cen­ter in Guangzhou, a cou­ple of par­ents fas­ten their child in a buggy and drag it in the heavy rain and wind. Mangkhut brought con­tin­u­ous pre­cip­i­ta­tion to Guang­dong Prov­ince. VCG

Septem­ber 18, 2018: Af­ter Ty­phoon Mangkhut blew through China, sev­eral cities suf­fered vary­ing de­grees of dam­age. VCG

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