Human-caused climate change contributed to an unusually intense and lethal hot spell across Southeast Asia, according to a study by the World Weather Attribution (WWA).

A Real Research survey revealed that 73% of respondents were aware of the human-induced extreme weather in Southeast Asia, and 27% were unaware.

Highlights:

  • 72% of respondents think the record-breaking temperatures in 2024 surpassed expectations.
  • 7 out of 10 respondents believe human activities can contribute to extreme heatwaves.
  • Over two-thirds were aware of the El Nino phenomenon in Southeast Asia.

Extreme Weather in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is grappling with a brutal heatwave as record temperatures trigger urgent health warnings across the region. Regarding this, 62% of respondents said they reside in an area that has recorded an unusual heatwave this year, while 38% said they do not.

The El Nino Phenomenon

The extreme weather in Southeast Asia is linked to the El Nino phenomenon, a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific that results in hotter, drier conditions in the regions. 68% of respondents were aware of this phenomenon, and 32% said they were unaware.

El-Nino-phenomenon
Figure 1: Were you aware of the El Nino phenomenon?

Heatstroke Risk in Southeast Asia

Scientists have said the number of heat-related deaths globally has risen significantly in recent years, along with temperatures. According to 71% of respondents, human activities can contribute to extreme heatwaves, and 29% think otherwise.

extreme-weather-in-Southeast-Asia
Figure 2: Do human activities contribute to extreme weather in Southeast Asia?

Factors Contributing To Extreme Weather in Southeast Asia

Researchers from the Swiss climate research group IQ Air attributed the current heatwave to “a combination of factors, which include human-induced climate change and the El Nino event. Respondents were asked which human activity is the biggest contributor to extreme heatwaves.

Their responses were industrial emissions (30%), deforestation (25%), urbanization (24%), and agricultural practices (28%), respectively.

Impacts on the Global Food Trade

As the sweltering weather leads to fears of water shortages, power outages, and crop damage, experts predict an impact on the global football trade. 73% of respondents believe this will have global repercussions, considering Southeast Asian countries are major food exporters globally, while 27% believe otherwise.

Earth Observatory of Singapore

Professor Benjamin Horton from the Earth Observatory of Singapore stated, “The level of heat the globe has experienced over the last 12 months, both on land and in the ocean,  has surprised science.”

Finally, the survey on human-induced heatwaves in Southeast Asia revealed that despite the expected trend due to rising greenhouse gas emissions, 72% of respondents think the record-breaking temperatures in 2024 surpassed expectations, and 28% did not believe so.

record-breaking-temperatures-in-2024
Figure 3: Did the record-breaking temperatures in 2024 surpass expectations?

Methodology

 
Survey TitleSurvey on Human-Induced Heatwaves in Southeast Asia
DurationMay 15 – May 23, 2024
Number of Participants5,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.