After July passed by, the horror of the scorching heat began again. Hot temperatures, surpassing 35 degrees Celsius, continued all over Korea for more than two weeks. What’s more, there was no rain coming. The worst summer Koreans had experienced before this was in 1994, when many people died of heatstroke. Predictions by experts that this summer will not be different from 1994 are rampant. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the heat wave the world is experiencing this year happened due to the phenomenon of long-term global warming. This means there is a high possibility that this horrible summer will continue. But why is this sweltering heat really happening, and where will this heat lead? Finally, what people should be aware of?
The Cause of Scorching Heat in Korea
Experts found out that the scorching heat in Korea this year is due to the ‘Heat dome phenomenon’ occurring over Europe and Asia, which formed in the northern hemisphere. The heat dome phenomenon means caging hot air on the ground, like covering it with blanket. Reasons why whole areas in Korea faced heat dome phenomenon are the infusion of hot and humid high atmospheric pressure, an early end of the rainy season, and stable distribution of atmospheric pressure. In the case of high atmospheric pressure, it has been formed by the simultaneous effect of Tibet’s dry heat on the one hand and hot, humid air of the North Pacific on the other. Moreover, while typhoon ‘Ampil’ flew to Shanghai, China, hot and humid air has been infused in the Korean Peninsula and raising the heat level. The ideal method to settle the heat would be a typhoon. However, two high atmospheric pressures placed all over Korea are unmoved, and this makes it hard for any typhoon to get close to Korea. A rainy season would also an effective solution to calm the heat down. However, the rainy season this year was the second shortest ever—just 11 days compared to the record of 6 days set in 1973. Due to the coincidence of all of these factors, which combined to maximize heat, Korea had to spend the worst summer ever.
Problems Caused by Heat Wave
The succession of the scorching heat from July 1 to 17 resulted in 554 of patients with thermal disorders. Among them, 7 people even lost their lives. Since this result aggregates only patients who were directly affected by the heat, there will be enormous numbers of patients who were indirectly affected by the hot temperatures. Despite these figures, since scorching heat, unlike typhoons, tsunamis, and earthquakes, is not categorized as a natural disaster, getting the government’s support for heat-related medical treatment can be difficult. This situation promises to only to intensify as the number of patients due to the sweltering heat increases.
Insistently sweltering heat can also bring huge damage to agricultural and dairy industries. The horrible summer this year killed 790 thousands of domestic animals. The property loss is estimated to be about 4.2 billion won. Livestock is very vulnerable to heat. Pigs, for instance, have difficulty regulating their body temperature since their sweat glands are not fully developed. This is also true for chicken and ducks. Many measures are being taken to minimize these losses, but there does not seem to be any easy solutions.
Increasing Electric usage
Every summer, as people turn on electric fans and air conditioners to deal with the heat, the usage of electricity breaks new records. On August 12, 2016, the recorded maximum value of electric usage in Korea was 85.18 million kW, and the government began working on measures to regulate the supply and demand of electric power during the summer. In July 2018, the electric usage was 92.48 million Kw, which exceeded the maximum value the government had estimated. In September 2011, Korea experienced a blackout due to excessive electricity consumption, and another blackout is of concern this summer too if this trend continues. Even if there is no blackout, it is predicted that several residential areas will still experience frequent power cuts. The government retained additional electric power in preparation for such a situation.
Precautions in This Hot Weather
The first thing people should keep in mind is a cardiac disorder. Insistent heat can extend the blood vessels, resulting in low blood pressure. To make matters worse, fatal illnesses, such as angina, can happen if the blood flow rate slows because of a blood clot. Another symptom of being exposed to hot sun for a long time is the feeling that your heart is being tightened. If this happens, you have to go to a cool place right away and drink water. If the symptom does not cease, you must visit the hospital. Moreover, if you stay in a hot area for a long time, your discomfort index will increase. This induces stress and makes you edgy. For the resolution, experts say that a short nap in a cool place will be enough. “Air-conditioningitis” is another illness that can people can suffer from on hot days. Air-conditioningitis happens if you stay for a long time in a cold air-conditioned place and, as a result, become sick. This and other heat-illnesses are the ones you should be aware.
Every summer, extremely hot weather brings trouble to many people, and the summer of 2018 was especially hot. The causes of this never-calming heat wave, as we have seen, are hot anticyclone and a short rainy weather, and the heat has directly harmed the health of humans and animals. People should be careful of cardiac diseases and illnesses caused by air-conditioners turned on to avoid hotness. The heat this summer is slowly fading, but in preparation for next summer, let’s be aware of the things mentioned above and stay healthy! < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >