Images of the aftermath: Nation rolls up its sleevesThe extent of the damage from Friday night’s typhoon is apparent in these photographs, and meteorologists have said the winds packed by the storm were the strongest ever recorded here; they outdid the punch of Typhoon Sara in 1959. But Sara hit Korea while it was still underdeveloped and struggling to recover from the Korean War earlier in the decade. That earlier storm carried a death toll about eight times higher than current figures on lives lost because of Maemi last week.
Winds of 60 meters per second, or about 135 miles per hour, were recorded in Jeju Friday afternoon. Experts said winds of over 50 meters per second can rip out the roots of large trees and bend steel power transmission towers.
Typhoon season in Korea is usually in July and August, but this September storm packed an unusual punch. Some meteorologists said that could be a reflection of global warming and the climate changes it can cause.
If the earth’s temperature rises, water surface temperatures in tropical and subtropical zones also rise and produce more water vapor that contributes to the formation of typhoons, those experts said. And global warming has affected Korea in other ways as well, they added. During the last 100 years, annual average temperatures in major cities of Korea have risen by about 1.5 degrees centigrade, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Kim Jeong-woo, a meteorology professor at Yonsei University, temperatures in Korea will rise even faster in the next several years, perhaps increasing by another 1.5 degrees centigrade by 2006.
The Korea Environment Institute said global warming, if it continued, would melt glaciers in polar areas, and that by 2100, Mokpo and Gusan in the Jeolla provinces would be under water.
by Min Seong-jae