This post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Korea Country Manager Jitae Chang
South Korea is no exception to global trends toward extreme weather events. The country is losing its spring and autumn seasons, which has serious consequences for their agriculture and fishing industries. In some places, the agricultural industry has had no choice but to replace several traditional crops with Southern Asian tropical species that are not native to the area.
Figure 1. A man wipes his face with a towel during a hot day in a residential district in Seoul on Aug 2. (Jung Yeon-JE / AFP / Getty Images)
According to the National Institute of Meteorological Science (NIMS), compared to the early twentieth century, the recent thirty-year average annual temperature has increased by 1.4˚C in South Korea. This has resulted in unpredictable weather conditions, such as sudden localized heavy rain and sudden coldness.
Figure 2. An illustration of the worry about extreme weather in South Korea. (The Segye Times)
Figure 3. Length and timing of seasonal change in South Korea. Inner circle, 1912–1941; outer circle, 1988–2017. (NIMS)
NIMS reports that climate change cost South Korea 162 lives and 5.4 billion USD of property over ten years (2007–2016). It recommends that South Korea work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) more closely than ever to provide meteorological data and collect more correct climate change simulation data.
Since 2008, the South Korean government has deployed aggressive climate change actions, such as promoting a number of green energy and renewable energy projects. The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) has developed an extreme weather warning system, with indicators benchmarked from other advanced countries.
KMA saw the need to publish dedicated meteorological technology and policy journals in order to develop a more accurate weather prediction system and exchange information with the public. They started publishing two journals: Meteorological Technology and Policy and Meteorological Technology—Policy Information Trend. The first focuses more on what we should do to improve our preparation and response to extreme weather changes, and the kinds of available technology. The second journal looks at what other countries are doing to improve the prevention of extreme weather changes. As of this month, these two periodicals have reached the 32nd issue and 497th issue, respectively.
Figure 4. Real-time precipitation and inundation information of the Han River, by segment section. (Meteorological Technology and Policy, December 31, 2020, KMA)
With the knowledge and technologies now available, KMA can more accurately and quickly analyze unexpected local weather conditions. Their extreme weather forecasting and warning ability has greatly improved since 2008; it is still impossible to anticipate the weather with 100% accuracy. South Korea tragically suffers casualties every year because of extreme weather changes. While the total number is decreasing, and as KMA continues to improve, more lives and property will be saved.
Current ability of the country to adapt to extreme weather conditions it faced in 2021:
Rating: **** Outstanding
Four Stars (****): Outstanding
Three stars (***): Good
Two stars (**): Fair
One star (*): Unprepared
Park Kwang Suk, Administrator, Korea Meteorological Administration
Phone: +82 2 2181 0900
Kim Sung Kyeon, Head of Institute, National Institute of Meteorological Science
Phone: + 82 64 780 6500
Website: http://www.nims.go.kr/?sub_num=775 (1:1 chat with the head)
Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA)
National Institute of Meteorological Science (NIMS)
Meteorological Technology and Policy, Meteorological Technology—Policy Information Trend