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339. Extreme Weather Events in the Northern Hemisphere in June and July 2021

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In 2021, the Kanto region entered the rainy season later than usual, and the rainy season ended earlier than usual. Looking at the world, extreme and abnormal weather has been observed in the Northern Hemisphere during June and July.

Across the Pacific Ocean, the northwestern United States and western Canada have been hit by a heat wave since the end of June, with record high temperatures exceeding 40°C. In Lytton, a village located northwest of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, the temperature hit 46.6℃ on June 27th, 47.9℃ on the 28th within 24 hours, and 49.6℃ on the 29th, breaking the record high temperature for three consecutive days. Even though Lytton is located in the Rocky Mountains, the weather conditions are similar to those in the Middle East, and there are concerns about the melting of glaciers. The states of Washington and Oregon were also hit by the heat wave, with Seattle and Portland experiencing temperatures exceeding 40°C every day, and the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission reported temperatures of 69°C in the interior of Washington State. In July, heat waves continued in the northwestern United States and Canada, and wildfires were reported to be spreading. These heat waves are believed to be caused by the "heat dome" phenomenon, in which high pressure in the atmosphere stagnates and traps heat on the ground like a lid, and this year heat waves have been observed to arrive in the Middle East one month before normal. 

On the other hand, in Europe, floods caused by heavy rainfall, said to occur once every 100 years, have caused loss of life and destruction of property, especially in western Germany and Belgium, where the soil was said to have been saturated by rainfall equivalent to two months of a normal year during the two days of July 14-15. There have been reports of severe flooding over the weekend. 

The direct cause of the extreme weather is still awaiting analysis, but experts are pointing to the possible effects of climate change. Already, it is estimated that the average global temperature has risen by 1.2°C compared to pre-industrial times. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report “Global Warming of 1.5°C” is concerned that the risks of climate change to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, and economic growth could increase if the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 2°C or less compared to the industrial age is not ambitiously limited to 1.5°C in order to maintain human welfare.

With a number of scheduled international initiatives, including the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Food Systems Summit, the year 2021 will make the difference between success and failure.

On May 12, 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) formulated the “Strategy for Sustainable Food Systems, MeaDRI” to achieve both productivity improvement and sustainability of food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries through innovation. The strategy aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 by focusing on achieving the SDGs model and realizing a green society through decarbonization of the food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries, and reducing the environmental impact of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. JIRCAS also aims to contribute through science and technology to solving the global issue of food system transformation, which will enable both productivity improvement and sustainability.
 

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Director, Information Program)