HONG Kong went through its hottest Lunar New Year, with the second and third day of the Year of the Pig breaking records as a United Nations (聯合國) report noted rising global temperatures.
The local temperature of 25.8 degrees Celsius on 7 February – the third day of the Lunar New Year – broke the record of 25.6 degrees in 1970 – making it the warmest third day of the Lunar New Year since 1884.
Sandy Song Man-kuen (宋文娟) , senior scientific officer of the Hong Kong Observatory, said the heat was the result of mild winds, strong sunshine and a warm and humid maritime airstream affecting the coast of Guangdong (廣東).
The weather is apparently getting warmer not only during the Lunar New Year period but throughout the year too. Affected by global warming, the annual mean temperature in Hong Kong rose 0.13 degrees per decade from 1885 to last year.
According to a United Nations report, 2018 was the fourth warmest on record, and the outlook is for more heat approaching levels that most governments view as dangerous for the Earth.
Extremes in weather in 2018 included wildfires in California (加州) and Greece (希臘), a drought in South Africa (南非) and floods in Kerala, India (印度). Record levels of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, trap ever more heat.
Average global surface temperatures were one degree above pre-industrial times in 2018, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation said.
Last year, the United States (美國) alone suffered 14 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding US$1 billion (HK$7.8 billion) each, led by hurricanes and wildfires.
This year has also started with scorching temperatures, including Australia’s warmest January on record.
And as for Hong Kong, typhoons are likely to become stronger due to the rise in temperature of sea water and a greater capacity of the atmosphere to carry water,
Song said. The annual mean temperature has been rising from 21.5 degrees in 1885 to almost 24 degrees last year. The rate of increase in average temperature became faster in the latter half of the 20th century, reaching 0.17 degrees per decade during 1989-2018. Song said Hong Kong is being affected by global warming and urbanisation.
Scientists also warned that meltwater from the Greenland (格陵蘭) and Antarctic ice sheets could boost extreme weather and destabilise the regional climate within a matter of decades.
These melting giants will to further weaken the ocean currents that move cold water south along the Atlantic Ocean floor while pushing tropical waters northward closer to the surface, according to researchers at New Zealand’s (紐西蘭) Victoria University of Wellington.
(This article is published on the Student Standard on 25 February 2019)