South Korea Extreme Weather Event

2016 Extreme Heat Wave

The recent extreme heat wave in 2016 caused extensive damage to people, the environment and to the country as a whole. The damage can be seen in the agricultural sector, the maritime-fisheries sector, the environment/energy sector and on people’s health.

Damage to the agricultural sector included death of livestock and plants because of the high temperatures that were above 32 degrees Celsius. The repair costs for these damages were over 2,000 million KRW. The government tried to deal with these agricultural sector problems by introducing policies and actions such as providing information on the analysis of agricultural climate characteristics, climate damage by agro-climatic zones, and forecasting each region’s soil moisture status (167 cities and counties).

The most significant damage to the maritime-fisheries sector was that aquaculture species died as a result of the high-water temperatures that cost 50 billion KRW. The government issued warnings and breaking news on low/high water temperatures to help the aquaculture industry prevent the massive death of fish (this was also a reaction from the cold waves in 2015 and 2016).

Due to these heat waves in Seoul, which lasted for 24 days, including 32 days of tropical nights, national ozone warnings were issued on a regular basis. During this period, electricity consumption reached its peak, 8,370,000 kW. This high demand for electricity resulted in the rapid increase of sales of air conditioners (160% increase), dehumidifiers (245% increase), and electric fans (92% increase). As a policy response, the National Institute of Environmental Research and NASA developed a joint air quality investigation.

The heat waves also affected people’s health. In 2016, the number of patients with thermal problems (heat stroke) doubled. In order to monitor such health issues, the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now provides the current status of health damages and releases news on the rapid increase in the number of patients with thermal conditions/problems.