El Niño is wreaking havoc on Southeast Asia, causing record-breaking heatwaves and floods. Northern Vietnam has experienced temperatures exceeding 44 degrees Celsius, breaking its previous record of 43.4 degrees Celsius. The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting attributes this phenomenon to the El Niño climate anomaly, which is causing extreme weather patterns.
Nguyen Huu Hue, Director of the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, expressed concern about the “very worrying record” from the perspective of climate change and global warming. Hue believes that this record will likely be repeated, confirming extreme climate models as a reality.
Although the effects of La Niña have slightly lowered global temperatures over the past three years, scientists expect heatwaves and floods to occur more frequently this year due to the influence of El Niño. Last month, Thailand recorded its highest temperature at 44.6 degrees Celsius in the western province of Mae Hong Son, while a village in eastern Myanmar experienced its highest temperature in a decade at 43.8 degrees Celsius. Some areas in Thailand felt temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius.
The scorching heat has caused several deaths from heatstroke and dehydration, with an 11-year-old boy in Malaysia among the victims. Luang Prabang in Laos and Myanmar both recorded temperatures of 42.7 and 45 degrees Celsius, respectively. In Bangladesh, the heat caused the surface of the roads in the capital city, Dhaka, to melt.
Dr. Wang Jingyu, a researcher at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, stated that April was the hottest month ever in Asia, attributing it to the return of the El Niño and the decrease in rainfall. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predicts that El Niño’s climate patterns will continue until October, with the impact peaking from July onwards.
Governments in affected countries are struggling to prepare for the crisis. The Philippine government faces a water crisis as water levels in the main reservoirs of the capital city, Manila, hit historic lows, forcing the National Water Resources Board to activate emergency plans to increase groundwater production. Last month, the Thai Department of Water Resources warned its citizens to save water as the country’s reservoirs were only 40% full, while the Malaysian government issued a heatwave warning and advised its citizens to stay indoors during peak hours.
As the impact of El Niño continues to intensify, governments and citizens alike must take necessary measures to combat the effects of this climate anomaly. The future of Southeast Asia may depend on it.