Extreme climate events hit more than nine million in Asia in 2023: new climate report

The year 2023 was the warmest on record globally, keeping in line with the pattern observed between 2015 and 2023 – the nine warmest years on record

Updated - May 09, 2024 12:07 pm IST

Published - April 23, 2024 12:35 pm IST

Rescuers remove debris as they search for people feared trapped after a landslide near a temple on the outskirts of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh in August 2023.  (File photo)

Rescuers remove debris as they search for people feared trapped after a landslide near a temple on the outskirts of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh in August 2023. (File photo) | Photo Credit: PTI via AP Photo/ Pradeep Kumar

More than nine million people across Asia were affected by 79 extreme climate disasters reported on the continent in 2023, a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation has found. The disasters killed more than 2,000 people even as the region registered its second-highest mean temperature rise on record.

Also Read: Explained | Here’s how Asia fared in 2022 in terms of climate and extreme events

Asia and the Pacific was the most disaster-impacted region last year. The 2023 State of Climate in Asia report highlights how accelerating climate change indicators, like rise in surface temperatures and sea level, are already affecting societies and economies in significant ways. The report also shows a gap in climate projections and the ability of Asian countries to adapt to and mitigate climate change and its impacts.

What is happening globally?

The year 2023 was the warmest on record, keeping in line with the pattern observed between 2015 and 2023 – the nine warmest years on record.

Atmospheric concentration of the three major greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – reached record highs in 2022, the latest year for which global data is available.

Oceans have absorbed around 25% of annual man-made carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere between 1960 and 2021. The trend continues, and ocean heat content in 2023 was the highest on record.

Where does India stand?

Heatwaves in India in April and June resulted in about 110 reported deaths, the report said. In August 2023, India experienced a record-high monthly mean temperature and exceptional rainfall deficit, which can be linked to El Niño.

The tropical cyclone activity over the North Indian Ocean was slightly above average. Cyclone Michaung made landfall in Andhra Pradesh on December 5, killing more than 20 people.

Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand were struck by flooding and landslides in August 2023, killing around 25 people and causing extensive infrastructural damage in the affected areas.

A glacial lake outburst flood in Sikkim in October led to the collapse of the Teesta III hydroelectric dam, resulting in more than 100 deaths, and affecting thousands of people. Glacial lakes are formed by retreating glaciers, and climate change-induced glacier retreat makes this type of disaster more common, the report observed.


Asia recorded its second-highest mean temperature on record in 2023. Japan and Kazakhstan observed record warm years.


The Indian summer monsoon in 2023 was below average, the report acknowledged.

Many other parts in Asia, including Turan Lowland (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan), the Hindu Kush (Afghanistan, Pakistan), the Himalayas, area around the Ganga and lower course of the Brahmaputra rivers (India and Bangladesh), the Arakan mountains (Myanmar), and the lower course of the Mekong river recorded below-normal precipitation in 2023.

Southwest China suffered a drought.

Glaciers and snow

Glaciers continued to retreat at an accelerating rate in 2023. High temperatures and dry conditions in East Himalayas and Central Asia’s Tian Shan mountains accelerated glacial mass loss. The snow cover extent over Asia in 2023 was lesser than the 1998–2020 average.

Sea surface temperatures and ocean heat

The Arabian Sea, west side of the North Pacific Ocean basin, the Southern Barents Sea, the Southern Kara Sea, and the South-Eastern Laptev Sea are warming more than three times faster than the globally averaged sea surface temperature.

Extreme events

Floods and storms were the leading cause of death by natural hazards in Asia in 2023, affecting India, Pakistan, and Yemen the worst. These climatic events made up over 80% of reported extreme climate events in the year, according to the data analysed for the report.

In June and July, floods, landslides, and lightning caused around 600 reported deaths across India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

Also Read: Pakistan floods’ death toll nears 1,700, puts pressure on fragile economy

The Hong Kong Observatory Headquarters recorded an hourly rainfall total of 158.1 mm on September 7, the highest since records began in 1884, due to a typhoon. Vietnam also received record-breaking amounts of daily rainfall in October.

Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates also suffered floods following rainfall.

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