Climate Change Impacts: Asia


The entire continent of Asia is expected to warm during this century.  Central Asia, northern Asia and the Tibetan Plateau are likely to warm beyond the global mean while South and East Asia as expected to warm slightly above the global mean.  Southeast Asia however will be reaching temperatures similar to that of the global mean.  During the summer it is extremely likely that East Asia will have longer, more intense heat waves and it is also projected that South and East Asia will have fewer cold, winter days.

Snowfall in the Tibetan Plateau and in northern Asia is very likely to increase while eastern Asia and the southern parts of Southeast Asia are likely to see an increase in winter precipitation.  Summer rainfall in East and South Asia, northern Asia, and most of Southeast Asia is expected to increase but central Asia is probably going to see a decrease in rainfall.  According to the IPCC, in four out of the six regions in Asia, the largest warming occurs in DJF, but in central Asia, the maximum occurs in JJA.  In Southeast Asia, the warming is nearly the same throughout the year.

Temperature and precipitation changes over Asia from the MMD-A1B simulations. Top row: Annual mean, DJF and JJA temperature change between 1980 to 1999 and 2080 to 2099, averaged over 21 models. Middle row: same as top, but for fractional change in precipitation. Bottom row: number of models out of 21 that project increases in precipitation.


Freshwater availability is expected to decrease, especially in large river basins, in Central, South, East, and South-East Asia as a result of climate change.  This shortage of water combined with population growth and increasing demands for higher standards of living could quite possible affect billions of Asians by the year 2050.  Coastal regions that are densely populated such as parts of South, East, and South-East Asia are vulnerable to flooding due to sea/river level rise.

Climate change will most likely halt the sustainability of developing countries in Asia and will rapidly drain natural resources which will most likely lead to high hunger rates.  It is estimated that crop yields could increase by up to 20% in East and South-East Asia and decrease by up to 30% in South and Central Asia by the middle of the 21st century.  The mortality rates will ultimately increase due to the spread of diseases (e.g. diarrhea) associated with droughts, flooding, and the lack of resources.


Humans are not the only ones that will be affected by global climate change.  Many wild life will also feel the wrath of mother nature.  Marine and coastal ecosystems in Asia are expected to be disturbed as a result of temperature increase and sea level rise.  Wetlands, mangroves, and coral reefs around Asia will become unstable and will likely be increasingly threatened.  Recent analysis project that 24 to 30 percent of coral reefs in Asia are going to disappear by the next 10 to 30 years.

Less river runoff and sea level rise will created sea water intrusions along the coast and as a result, will likely increase the amount of brackish water (semi-salty) fish near the coast.  Freshwater sources will become contaminated with ocean water and could produce diarrheal diseases amoung the people that live in South and South East Asia.  Glacier’s will melt at a much faster rate due to the increase in temperature and will likely cause landslides, glacier melt related floods, and a decrease in river flow.  Agriculture in all part of Asia will be altered and the risk of hunger and dehydration will increase.


Unlike South East Asia, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Western part of Asia will not be affected too much by sea level rise but rather by longer, more intense heat waves.  Saudi Arabia already has very arid condition and it is expected to get much more intense by the end of the century.  Dry conditions lead to fresh water shortages but due to Saudi Arabia’s rich economic state, it has developed many desalination plants throughout the coast of its borders.

There are more than 20 desalination plants in the country that basically remove salt and other minerals from sea water and convert it into drinkable, fresh water.  These plants supply about 70% of the country’s drinking water and more than 28 million megawatts of electricity.  Up to 90% of these plants are powered by natural gas or oil but the country is starting to move towards solar power technology.

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4 Responses to Climate Change Impacts: Asia

  1. The disturbance to wetlands, mangroves, and coral reefs caught my attention because it is an issue that will also affect my country. Obviously water will also be a main problem, but unlike my country you said that Saudi Arabia has made plenty of desalination plants. I think it’s great that Saudi Arabia has taken the time and money to invest in these plants. Saudi Arabia is ahead in adaptation initiatives, and I hope that some of their initiatives can be implemented in other areas.

  2. dmeyer35 says:

    Thats awesome that they’re going to start using solar power energy for the water plants. And hopefully they’ll have enough water during the heat waves.

  3. jmill258 says:

    I think that it is intersting that Asia has cold winter days, I didn’t think they could. It is good that crop yields could increase in SE Asia, but bad for Central Asia since they will decrease. This is a very well done, and descriptive post!

  4. tfittje says:

    The use of Solar Power in this country is a great idea since they don’t have much water or other resources that are renewable to use effectively as power.

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