The world has experienced a temperature increase of 0.8°C over the past one hundred years due to increased greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution. Korea’s temperature has increased by 1.8°C over the past one hundred years, which is two times the average global temperature rise, and the increase in water levels and ocean temperature is also three times the global average. The increasing trend has recently intensified; the average temperature of the Korean Peninsula increased by 1.2°C during the past 30 years (1981-2010, 0.41°C every 10 years) and this trend was observed during all seasons. The Korea Meteorological Administration published the “Korean Peninsula Climate Change Outlook Report” in December 2012. It applies representative concentration pathways (RCP), a new climate change scenario adopted by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in 2011. According to the report, future climate change on the Korean Peninsula will involve the warming trend from the past 30 years continuing steadily until 2100. If greenhouse gases are emitted at current levels (RCP 8.5 scenario), a temperature rise of 0.63°C/10 years is forecast until 2100, which is 1.6 times faster than the past 30 years. If greenhouse gas reduction policies are substantially fulfilled (RCP 4.5 scenario), the temperature is expected to rise at a rate of 0.33°C/10 years, which is somewhat lower than the trend on the Korean Peninsula from the past 30 years.

Both the RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios predicted that the average annual precipitation of the Korean Peninsula will exceed natural variation and show a clear increase after the mid-21st century. The RCP 4.5 scenario predicted increases of +6.2% in the early period of the 21st century, +10.5% in the middle period, and +16.0% in the late period compared to the current annual average precipitation. The increase in precipitation on the Korean Peninsula in the late 21st century is a large increase of about 3.9 times the global average. A substantial increase in precipitation is forecast even under the RCP 4.5 scenario, which is the case in which greenhouse gas reduction policies are substantially fulfilled, making it very necessary to prepare climate change adaptation measures.

Water levels around the Korean Peninsula were predicted to increase along all coasts on the east, west, and south. The RCP 4.5 scenario predicted that water levels will increase by 53cm on the south and west coasts and 74cm on the east coast in the late 21st century (2071-2100), which is comparable to the global water level increase of 70.6cm for the same period. According to the RCP 8.5 scenario, water levels will increase by 65cm on the south and west coasts and 99cm on the east coast in the late 21st century. The increase on the east coast is 10% higher than the global water level increase of 88.5cm for the same period.

The subtropical climate currently limited to the south coast of the Korean Peninsula is expected to gradually move north in the 21st century. The RCP 8.5 scenario predicts that most of South Korea, excluding Gangwon-do and northwest Gyeonggi-do, will be defined as subtropical regions.

Extreme weather such as heat waves and tropical nights was also expected to increase rapidly. Annual heat wave duration was predicted to increase from the current 7.3 days to 13.1 days in the late 21st century under RCP 4.5 and to 30.2 days in the late 21st century under RCP 8.5, resulting from an increase of 2.5 days every 10 years. The number of tropical nights was also expected to increase significantly from the current annual average on the Korean Peninsula of 2.8 days to 13.6 days in the late 21st century under RCP 4.5 and to 37.2 days under RCP 8.5. The number of days of torrential rain was expected to increase significantly under both RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 from the current 2.0 days to 2.8 days in the late 21st century, an increase of more than 30%.

If the entire world actively reduces greenhouse gases, the rate of temperature rise on the Korean Peninsula can be expected to decrease by half. Alleviation of climate change due to greenhouse gas reduction is predicted to be greater in terms of heat waves, tropical nights, and other extreme weather rather than temperature and precipitation.

Korean Peninsula Climate Change Outlook


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Last modified : 2016-11-03 22:58

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