GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF THE PHILIPPINES
Philippine Weather and Climate: Its Implications on the Minerals Industry
Climate change as now recognized worldwide has been attributed to either natural climate variability or anthropogenic global warming. The occurrence of natural hazards and related risks, with the concomitant increase in frequency, duration and intensity being reported in the media, have more often than not been attributed to climate change. However, there is another school of thought that takes a more precautionary approach to these occurrences. They attribute most of these to the so-called a.) "CNN effect" wherein due to improvements in telecommunications, natural hazard occurrences worldwide are readily reported and b.) improved technologies in such a way that those events that were not discernible before are readily recognized now due to enhanced technical capacity and technological capabilities. Irrespective of the reason or combination of reasons responsible for the observed changes in weather and climate, it has been noted that what might be reported to be occurring worldwide may not necessarily be true to a specific place. This is the reason why there is a need to look into the local scenario to determine the applicability of the observed global trends. In the Philippines, the availability of a very limited data set, does not allow us to say with confidence that what we are seeing now in the country is due to climate change, specifically man-induced global warming. It is for this reason that the accumulation, recording and analyses of climate and weather-related data are critical if we are to determine the effect and extent of global warming in the country. The last four and a half years (2004-2008) in the Philippines saw abnormal weather patterns. In 2004, the occurrence of four successive typhoons that hit Real, Infanta, General Nakar (REINA) in the Quezon Province brought so much destruction to life and property. The year 2005 was a relatively quiet year in the Philippines in terms of typhoon occurrences. 2006 saw the occurrence of four super typhoons (wind velocity >200 kph) landfalling in the country, the late start of a La Niña event, the enhancement of the Southwest Monsoon due to the presence of two tropical cyclones east of the country within the Philippine Area of Responsibility and a relatively wet summer. The year 2007 was again a relatively quiet year in terms of typhoons but it saw the onset of a dry spell in the middle of the year that wreaked havoc on agriculture, power and water supply and health. For 2008, the four successive tropical cyclones that never hit land but caused too much precipitations coming from the tropical cyclone-related rain clouds and the Southwest monsoon resulted into destruction to lives and properties in northern Luzon. Who can forget Typhoon Frank that caused too much devastation in Central Philippines. Clearly, a lot of these information is showing that there are perceptible changes in the weather and climate setting in the country. Such recognition is critical for the minerals industry. Shipment of ores would depend on the weather. Moisture-sensitive quarry deposits would get affected by too much precipitation. The occurrences of 50 to 100 year rains and floods in a particular mining concession can cause damage to infrastructures if not properly inputted in the design. Changes in the hydrological cycle will have an impact on an operation. Continuous monitoring and recording of meteorological elements are important if we are to fully determine and understand what is happening in the country in terms of the weather and climate. This will allow us then to make the appropriate preparations in the conduct of activities related to the minerals industry. The gathering of this set of information will also help the country chart its position and plans in terms of addressing this issue of climate change.
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