Temperatures could hit 40°C in some parts of Malaysia, expert warns

An expert has warned of solar radiation and heatstroke if the hot and dry weather continues. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A weather expert has warned of extreme droughts and heavy rainfall in the country due to global climate change if world temperatures continue to rise.

Fredolin Tangang of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences said the present hot and dry weather which is expected to last until April, followed by heavy downfalls in May, will only worsen if global temperatures increase.

“If the world does not act to reduce emissions, temperatures will rise,” he told FMT.

Fredolin, who heads UKM’s Centre for Earth, Science and Environment, said four natural and simultaneous phenomena were responsible for the current dry weather: El Nino, the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), the annual dry spell during the North-East Monsoon and the Equinox.

El Nino is a climate pattern linked to warming waters in the central and western areas of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. “This will continue until March or April,” Fredolin said.

The MJO, meanwhile, is the passing of dry winds from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Fredolin said it begins with an excess of moisture which sees heavy rainfall, followed by the dry winds presently experienced in the country.

He said the dry spell would likely end in March, while the Equinox on March 20 would see the sun directly above the equator line.

These four elements could see parts of Malaysia reaching temperatures of 40°C, he said, warning of strong solar radiation and heatstroke.

On Feb 25, the Meteorological Department or MetMalaysia issued a Level 1 alert after 10 areas experienced temperatures between 35°C and 37°C for three consecutive days.

A Level 2 warning will be issued if temperatures exceed the 37°C mark for three days in a row. This will allow the relevant agencies to take emergency action such as closing schools.

If the dry spell worsens, with temperatures exceeding 40°C for three consecutive days, MetMalaysia will declare a Level 3 alert. This will pave the way for the prime minister to declare a state of emergency.

Fredolin recommended staying indoors, drinking plenty of water and protecting children from direct exposure to the sun.

The UN World Meteorological Organisation has said global temperatures are on course for a 3-5°C rise this century, far overshooting the global target of limiting the increase to 2°C or less.