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Taiwan to see less rain, more droughts and violent typhoons

Gloomy predictions by Taiwan-developed weather modeling system emphasize need for quick action

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A boat is stranded on a dried lakebed in Sun Moon Lake in Nantou county in central Taiwan on April 23, 2021. 

A boat is stranded on a dried lakebed in Sun Moon Lake in Nantou county in central Taiwan on April 23, 2021.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan may have to brace itself for less rain and more droughts in the future due to the impact of climate change, a weather modeling analysis suggests.

Except for northern coastal areas and the windward side of Xueshan (雪山), the second-highest mountain in Taiwan, the country could see a significant drop in spring rain between 2040 and 2060. The phenomenon is also expected in other parts of East Asia, from southern and central China to Japan, wrote iThome, based on an evaluation of a Taiwan-developed weather prediction system.

Meanwhile, the likelihood of typhoons hitting Taiwan is projected to decline by 40% by the end of the 21st century, but they are expected to intensify in severity and impact. For example, a typhoon with the intensity of 2009's devastating Typhoon Morakot could bring one additional meter of rainfall to the country in the coming decades, wreaking even more havoc.

If global warming is not mitigated, Taiwan will see a 40% increase in the number of days logging temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius or higher, the forecast shows. Summers look set to last longer, starting in April, and the worst-case scenario could see winter disappear completely, according to Hsu Huang-hsiung (許晃雄), a fellow at the Sinica Academia’s Research Center for Environmental Changes, per CNA.

The gloomy outlook is part of an analysis by the Taiwan Earth System model (TaiESM) under a program sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). The system has factored in ocean currents, vegetation, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and other indicators, according to MOST.

The weather modeling data will serve as an important reference for policymakers. Action is badly needed to better allocate water resources and adapt to more sustainable agricultural patterns in anticipation of extreme weather events, said the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction.

For the first time in 56 years, Taiwan saw no typhoons last year, and a lack of precipitation in spring this year led to a prolonged drought. The water shortage that ensued was not eased until June, sparking concerns over the supply of semiconductor chips, which require large amounts of water to manufacture.