April temperatures in Indonesia hottest for more than four decades

Agence France-Presse
April temperatures in Indonesia hottest for more than four decades
A primary school student has a drink in a classroom during hot weather in Banda Aceh on May 15, 2023.
AFP / Chaideer Mahyuddin

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia experienced its hottest April in more than four decades, two senior weather agency officials said Wednesday, as the region endures a suffocating heatwave and global temperatures break records.

Extreme heat has blasted Asia from India to the Philippines in recent weeks, triggering heatstroke deaths, school closures and desperate prayers for cooling rain.

"The average air temperature in April 2024 was the highest compared to April from 1981-2023," Achmad Fachri Radjab, head of the meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG) climate change information centre, told AFP.

Ardhasena Sopaheluwakan, BMKG's deputy of climatology, also confirmed the agency's findings to AFP.

Indonesia recorded an average air temperature in April of 27.74 degrees Celsius (81.93 Fahrenheit), the highest for the month since 1981 and beating the last highest average April temperature set in 2016 by 0.1 degrees, according to BMKG data.

It also represented an increase of nearly one degree Celsius in April this year compared to the month's average temperature of 26.85 degrees Celsius for the period 1991 to 2020, the agency said.

"This year, it was 0.89 degrees higher than the average (for that period)," said Radjab.

"When it comes to causes, there are a lot of factors, not only climate factors but also environmental factors that must have an influence."

Breaking records

Extensive scientific research has found climate change is causing heatwaves to become longer, more frequent and more intense.

Since June last year every month has been the warmest such period on record globally, according to the European Union's climate monitor.

Residents of South Asia and Southeast Asia from Myanmar to the Philippines were punished last month as they sweltered in record temperatures.

More than 100 temperature records fell across Vietnam in April while Bangladesh and Myanmar also saw heat records for the month broken.

But Guswanto, deputy BMKG chief who goes by one name, told local media last month Indonesia was not experiencing the same heatwave and that temperatures were at normal levels.

The agency then said Indonesia's own higher temperatures were not linked to the wider regional heatwave, instead blaming it on a transition to the dry season that causes less rainfall and higher air temperatures, according to a BMKG statement Monday.

The natural El Nino pattern, which warms the Pacific Ocean and leads to a rise in global temperatures, peaked earlier this year.

But the average global sea surface temperatures still broke records in April for the 13th consecutive month.

Rising sea levels threaten Indonesia's archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that could find themselves underwater in the future.

The country's government is moving the capital from Jakarta to an area of eastern Borneo island, citing predictions by environmental researchers that large areas of the city could be submerged by 2050.

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