, DECEMBER 14, 2006
  (STAR) By P. Julian - Freaky weather is upon us, and the Philippines is facing the violent forces of a climate change.

And like other low-lying coastal cities, Manila will be at the forefront of rising seas, terrible typhoons and frequent floods.

Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Jakarta, Tokyo, Bangkok, Karachi, Mumbai and Dhaka — all share the fate of Manila, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), because strange weather will be common at the end of this century.

There will be heat waves, heavy rains and — in temperate countries — snow storms. The number of extremely warm nights and the length of heat waves for land areas around the globe will increase significantly.

This year alone, about 20 typhoons hit the Philippines, the usual number except that they were particularly strong storms. Typhoon Paeng in early November started innocently enough as a tropical depression but quickly gained strength as it approached the country, prompting the highest category 4-typhoon.

The last time the highest warning was raised was in December 2004 over Luzon. This time, mountain and coastal villagers in Isabela, Aurora, Cagayan and Quirino were warned of landslides, flash floods, storm surges and very rough seas.

Typhoon Paeng’s sustained winds intensified to 195 kilometers per hour with gusts of up to 230 kph in the afternoon of Oct. 29. It was the 16th severe storm out of about 20 typhoons and tropical storms that batter the country each year.

Less than a month before, Typhoon Milenyo claimed 230 people dead and missing. It was severe by any standard, hitting landfall in Eastern Samar, gaining strength as it swept through Albay, Camarines Sur, Ormoc City, Sorsogon and Catanduanes and Metro Manila the next day.

There were massive floods and landslides while communications and electricity grids were down in Bicol for over a week. Many were without potable water. Manila and nearby provinces were in a "state of calamity" and more than 90,000 people were displaced.

"Were in danger of dehydration as there is no potable water and no food to be had,"said a social worker in Manila which was brought into a near-standstill as schools and offices were closed.

Welcome to your worst nightmare: freaky weather that is normal occurrence as the world warms up.

It could already be happening, according to the IPCC.

Sea ice in the Arctic and glaciers are melting fast. Warmer temperatures melt more glaciers, increase ocean heat and expand ocean water — resulting in a global sea level rise of four to 10 inches in the last 100 years and six inches to three feet in the next 100.

Most areas above 40 degrees North latitude will experience more days of heavy rain, defined as more than 0.40 inches: Canada, northern United States and most of Europe.

Dry spells, which can lead to drought, could lengthen significantly across the western United States, southern Europe, eastern Brazil and several other areas.

The good news: the average growing season could increase significantly across most of North America and Eurasia.

Extreme rainfall has also increased significantly in the US, Japan, the former Soviet Union, China and Australia. Conversely, more droughts were reported elsewhere.

Already, there have been reports of an increase in thunderstorms over the land regions of tropical Asia. The frequency and severity of wildfires in grasslands and rangelands in arid and semi-arid Asia have increased in recent decades.

Floods, droughts, and cyclones are the key natural disasters in tropical Asia. In India, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam, drought disasters are more frequent during years following El Niño events. — InterNews&Features

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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