IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

10.2.2 Observed climate trends, variability and extreme events

Past and present climate trends and variability in Asia are generally characterised by increasing surface air temperature which is more pronounced during winter than in summer. Increasing trends have been observed across the seven sub-regions of Asia. The observed increases in some parts of Asia during recent decades ranged between less than 1°C to 3°C per century. Increases in surface temperature are most pronounced in North Asia (Savelieva et al., 2000; Izrael et al., 2002a; Climate Change in Russia, 2003; Gruza and Rankova, 2004).

Interseasonal, interannual and spatial variability in rainfall trend has been observed during the past few decades all across Asia. Decreasing trends in annual mean rainfall are observed in Russia, North-East and North China, coastal belts and arid plains of Pakistan, parts of North-East India, Indonesia, Philippines and some areas in Japan. Annual mean rainfall exhibits increasing trends in Western China, Changjiang Valley and the South-Eastern coast of China, Arabian Peninsula, Bangladesh and along the western coasts of the Philippines. Table 10.2 lists more details on observed characteristics in surface air temperature and rainfall in Asian sub-regions.

Table 10.2. Summary of key observed past and present climate trends and variability

Region  Country  Change in temperature  Change in precipitation  References  
North Asia Russia 2 to 3°C rise in past 90 years, more pronounced in spring and winter Highly variable, decrease during 1951 to 1995, increase in last decade Savelieva et al., 2000; Peterson et al., 2002; Gruza and Rankova, 2004 
 Mongolia 1.8°C rise in last 60 years, most pronounced in winter 7.5% decrease in summer and 9% increase in winter  Batima et al., 2005a; Natsagdorj et al., 2005 
Central Asia Regional mean 1 to 2°C rise in temperature per century No clear trend during 1900 to 1996. Peterson et al., 2002 
 North-West China 0.7°C increase in mean annual temperature from 1961 to 2000 Between 22% and 33% increase in rainfall Shi et al., 2002 
Tibetan Plateau Regional mean 0.16 and 0.32°C per decade increase in annual and winter temperatures, respectively Generally increasing in north-east region Liu et al., 1998; Yao et al., 2000; Liu and Chen, 2001; Cai et al., 2003; Du and Ma, 2004; Zhao et al., 2004 
West Asia (Middle East) Iran During 1951 to 2003 several stations in different climatological zones of Iran reported significant decrease in frost days due to rise in surface temperature Some stations show a decreasing trend in precipitation (Anzali, Tabriz, Zahedan) while others (Mashad, Shiraz) have reported increasing trends IRIMO, 2006a, b; Rahimzadeh, 2006 
East Asia China Warming during last 50 years, more pronounced in winter than summer, rate of increase more pronounced in minimum than in maximum temperature Annual rain declined in past decade in North-East and North China, increase in Western China, Changjiang River and along south-east coast  Zhai et al., 1999; Hu et al., 2003; Zhai and Pan, 2003 
 Japan About 1.0°C rise in 20th century, 2 to 3°C rise in large cities No significant trend in the 20th century although fluctuations increased Ichikawa, 2004; Japan Meteorological Agency, 2005 
 Korea 0.23°C rise in annual mean temperature per decade, increase in diurnal range More frequent heavy rain in recent years Jung et al., 2002; Ho et al., 2003 
South Asia India 0.68°C increase per century, increasing trends in annual mean temperature, warming more pronounced during post monsoon and winter Increase in extreme rains in north-west during summer monsoon in recent decades, lower number of rainy days along east coast  Kripalani et al., 1996; Lal et al., 1996; Lal et al., 2001b; Singh and Sontakke, 2002; Lal, 2003 
 Nepal 0.09°C per year in Himalayas and 0.04°C in Terai region, more in winter No distinct long-term trends in precipitation records for 1948 to 1994 Shrestha et al., 2000; Bhadra, 2002; Shrestha, 2004 
 Pakistan 0.6 to 1.0°C rise in mean temperature in coastal areas since early 1900s 10 to 15% decrease in coastal belt and hyper arid plains, increase in summer and winter precipitation over the last 40 years in northern Pakistan Farooq and Khan, 2004  
 Bangladesh An increasing trend of about 1°C in May and 0.5°C in November during the 14 year period from 1985 to 1998 Decadal rain anomalies above long term averages since 1960s Mirza and Dixit, 1997; Khan et al., 2000; Mirza, 2002  
 Sri Lanka 0.016°C increase per year between 1961 to 90 over entire country, 2°C increase per year in central highlands Increase trend in February and decrease trend in June Chandrapala and Fernando, 1995; Chandrapala, 1996  
S-E Asia General 0.1 to 0.3°C increase per decade reported between 1951 to 2000 Decreasing trend between 1961 and 1998. Number of rainy days have declined throughout S-E Asia Manton et al., 2001 
 Indonesia Homogeneous temperature data were not available Decline in rainfall in southern and increase in northern region Manton et al., 2001; Boer and Faqih, 2004 
 Philippines Increase in mean annual, maximum and minimum temperatures by 0.14°C between 1971 to 2000 Increase in annual mean rainfall since 1980s and in number of rainy days since 1990s, increase in inter-annual variability of onset of rainfall PAGASA, 2001; Cruz et al., 2006