Millions of people in East Asia braved the bitter cold on Wednesday as sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow caused travel chaos during the Lunar New Year holiday, with meteorologists warning that such extreme weather events could be a “new have become “normal”.
South Korea issued a heavy snowfall warning this week as temperatures plunged to minus 15 degrees Celsius (minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the capital, Seoul, and other cities hit record lows, officials said.
On the popular tourist island of Jeju, hundreds of flights were canceled due to severe weather while passenger ships were forced to stay in port due to high waves, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters.
“The cold air from the North Pole has reached South Korea directly,” Woo Jin-kyu, a spokesman for the Korea Meteorological Administration, told CNN after traveling through Russia and China.
See what life is like inside one of the world’s coldest places.
Wu said that while scientists take a long-term view of climate change, “we can consider this extreme weather — extreme heat in summer and extreme cold in winter — as an indicator of climate change.” as one of.”
Across the border in Pyongyang, North Korean officials warned of severe weather conditions as a cold wave swept across the Korean Peninsula. Temperatures are expected to drop below minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of North Korea, state media reported.
In neighboring Japan, hundreds of domestic flights were canceled on Tuesday and Wednesday due to heavy snow and strong winds that hampered visibility. Major carriers Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways canceled a total of 229 flights.
Meanwhile, high-speed trains between North Fukushima and Shinju stations were suspended, Japan Railways Group said.
China’s meteorological authority also predicted a sharp drop in temperatures in parts of the country and issued a blue alert for a cold wave on Monday, the lowest level in the four-level warning system.
MoheTemperatures in China’s northernmost city plunged to minus 53 degrees Celsius (minus 63.4 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday – the coldest ever recorded, meteorologists said. snow fog — a weather phenomenon that occurs only in extreme cold when water droplets in the air remain in liquid form — is also expected in the city this week, local officials said.
Yeh Sang-wook, a meteorology professor at Seoul’s Hanyang University, attributed the severe cold wave on the Korean Peninsula to arctic winds from Siberia, adding that the heavy snowfall in South Korea this year is due to the melting of Arctic ice caps. It was due to Climate
“Last year and this year there has been a record melt,” he said. “When the sea ice melts, the ocean opens up, which creates more evaporation in the air, which leads to more snow in the north.”
He said that as climate change worsens, the region will face more severe cold weather in the future.
“There is no (explanation) other than that,” he said. “Climate change is getting really deep and there is a consensus among global scientists that this kind of cold trend will continue.”
Kevin Trenberth of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) agreed that “extreme weather events are the new normal”, adding, “We can certainly expect extreme weather It will be worse than before.”
He also pointed to the El Nino and La Nina climate pattern cycles in the Pacific Ocean that affect weather around the world.
La NinaThat, he said, has a generally cooling effect on global temperatures, which is one reason for the current cold snap.
“Of course there’s a big natural change that happens in the weather but … we often hear about the El Nino phenomenon and right now we’re in the La Nina phase. And that certainly affects the kind of patterns that occur. And so he’s a player too,” he said.