Unless if you’re all cozied up in an air-conditioned room for the past few weeks, you’d notice of the ever-changing weather scene in Malaysia lately.
It’s weird isn’t it? One minute it’s scorching hot and the other minute it’s pouring rain, it doesn’t even stop there as this process all just repeats itself multiple times in a single afternoon.
Even though Malaysia is well-known for hot weather, the intense heat we’re experiencing now is abnormal and due to climate change.
Like us, we too are wondering what in the world is taking place and the luckily, experts have the answers to our questions.
The Migrating Monsoon
Malaysia experiences the Northeast monsoon season every year from November to March where the South China Sea wind brings heavy rain to us. However, the monsoon migrates in this period and causes different weather behavior at different points in time throughout the season.
Prof Fredolin Tangang, Chairman of Department of Earth Sciences and Environment at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia says in The Rakyat Post that “the monsoon actually migrates south from southern Vietnam in early November to Java, Indonesia around January”; around mid-November to mid-December, the moisture is transported from South China Sea and released over Peninsular Malaysia.
As Peninsular Malaysia has minimal rainfall and high incoming solar radiation (insolation), the air temperature is usually increased too, hence, the somewhat unbearable heat at times.
Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)
Malaysia experiences a weather disturbance known as Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) once every 20 to 60 days. Simply think of it as a moving ball of clouds, rain, wind and pressure that crosses the equatorial region of the earth eastwards.
Fredolin explains that the MJO grows as it travels from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It also has two phases, enhanced rainfall that hits Malaysia in December and suppressed rainfall during the third week of December where there is lesser clouds around the Peninsular and the weather is dry.
Eastward clouds head into Malaysia during mid-January and fills the gap left behind by Northeast monsoon clouds and brings rain again; Malaysia goes back to having dry weather after all these is over.
Why does it rain even when it’s hot?
According to Dr Renard Siew, climate change advisor to the Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS), the reason is climate crisis.
“We will continue to experience both warmer temperatures and stronger storms and rainfall throughout the year in Asia Pacific due to changes in jet streams -fast flowing, narrow, meandering air currents in the atmosphere.” he said for The Rakyat Post.
When jet streams that typically help keep cool air near the poles and warm air near tropics swing out, it creates a dramatic bend and can carry pockets of warm air up north and cool air down south.