• Directory of Taiwan

U.N.: Taiwan to be hit by stronger typhoons: IPCC vice chairman

U.N.: Taiwan to be hit by stronger typhoons: IPCC vice chairman

A United Nations climate change expert predicted yesterday that the typhoons and tropical storms that normally strike Taiwan are likely to get even stronger in the future.

In his first speech in Taiwan, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) , said the number of typhoons and tropical cyclones likely to hit Taiwan in the years to come may not increase significantly, but their magnitude or intensity will most likely rise.

Since 1990, the IPCC has issued an assessment report on global climate change every five to six years, co-authored by meteorologists and scientists from around the world.

Citing the panel's fourth report, released in 2007, van Ypersele said most parts of Asia will become warmer in the 21st century, with Central Asia, Tibet and North Asia leading the trend, experiencing a surge in temperatures far higher than the world average.

The IPCC report directly linked global warming to the human activity and the release of carbon emissions, and van Ypersele warned that if countries failed to adopt carbon reduction policies, global temperatures could be 1.1-6.4 degrees Celsius higher in 2100 than in 1990.

Sea levels may also rise by 18-59 centimeters, and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather patterns, such as drought, flooding and heat waves, could increase significantly, van Ypersele cautioned.

He also forecast that summer precipitation in northern, eastern, southern and southeastern parts of Asia would increase and that winds and rains from typhoons and tropical cyclones in Southeast Asia and South Asia could become more severe and extreme.

On the effects of recent massive earthquakes and volcanic activities in Asia, van Ypersele said they were not expected to have a great impact on global climate change.

Van Ypersele, the highest-ranking IPCC official to ever visit Taiwan, said Taiwanese scientists and meteorologists were welcome to contribute to the fifth IPCC report to be issued in 2012 or 2013.

He said the report will offer policy-makers of various countries more information and practical examples of how to cut carbon emissions as a reference.

Speaking on the same occasion, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shu-hung Shen said global warming has had a strong impact on Taiwan, which is known for its biodiversity.

"We hope to interact more with the international community in climate change studies and share information in related policy-making areas," Shen added.