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Asia: Heat is on agriculture insurance as El Nino looms

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Sep 2015

Insurers underwriting agriculture insurance in Southeast Asia would be well advised to exercise caution, as 2015 could be an El Nino year, according to a climate expert who spoke during a presentation hosted by insurer Generali in its Hong Kong premises.
   Mr Johnny Chan, from the Guy Carpenter Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Centre, School of Energy and Environment at the City University of Hong Kong, said that Asia would experience much drier conditions under the influence of El Nino. 
   “In an El Nino year, you will get a lot less rain and the agriculture production will be affected,” Mr Chan said. 
   El Nino is a weather phenomenon that occurs every few years from December to February, which sees the warm waters of the Western Pacific – that is Asia – spread all the way to the normally cold waters of the Eastern Pacific. In the process, the heavy rainfalls that are usually observed in Southeast Asia during that period shift to the centre of the Pacific Ocean, depriving the region of precious rainfalls and increasing the likelihood of droughts.
 
El Nino is likely as forecasted by two leading climatology centres
But while some predictions call for an El Nino of epic proportions – a “Super El Nino” – , it is impossible to say for sure at this point that 2015 will be an El Nino year, Mr Chan said. Prediction models used by meteorologists are not entirely reliable and always have some uncertainty associated with them, he added. 
   The latest forecasts by two of the leading climatology centres point to a very high probability of El Nino materialising in 2015, he said. The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) predicts a warming of the ocean of up to four degrees Celsius in December this year, while the APEC Climate Centre (APCC) predicts a rise in ocean temperature of about 2 degrees Celsius. Both centres also predict below-average rainfall levels in the region for the second half of 2015.
 
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