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CR 72:29-38 (2017)  -  DOI:

Projection of future hot weather events and potential population exposure to this in South Korea

Changsub Shim1,*, Jihyun Seo1, Jihyun Han1, Jongsik Ha1, Tae Ho Ro1, Yun Seop Hwang2, Jung Jin Oh3

1Korea Environment Institute, 30147 Sejong, ROK
2Department of International Business and Trade, Kyung Hee University, 02453 Seoul, ROK
3Department of Chemistry, Sookmyung Women’s University, 04312 Seoul, ROK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Heat waves, often caused by consecutive severe hot weather events, are responsible for the majority of medical costs associated with climate change in South Korea. In this study, we obtained a regional climate change scenario (RCP4.5) for South Korea, with 7.5 × 7.5 km horizontal resolution and extending up to 2100, by dynamically downscaling from results of the Community Earth System Model (CESM) with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. We analyzed hot weather events (daily maximum temperature >33°C) in summer (June-August), focusing on changes in extent and frequency. According to our analysis, the area exposed to hot weather events in August will expand to cover ~70% of the nation in the middle of this century, with a rate of increase of 0.24% yr-1. We calculated the population exposed to hot weather events in Korea, considering both spatial coverage and number of event days. Population exposure was projected to increase almost 3-fold, from 26% of the national population during the 2010s to 72% during the 2090s. In particular, exposure of the elderly population (>65 yr old), who are particularly vulnerable, was expected to rapidly increase, with ~22% of the national population (~10.4 million people aged >65 yr) affected in the middle of this century when we considered the future projection of rapid aging of the South Korean population structure. Our projection of extensive hot weather events starting from the middle of the 21st century suggests the need for urgent government long-term measures and enforcement to ensure an early response to extreme weather events in Korea.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Climate vulnerability · Hot weather · Korea · Population exposure · Representative Concentration Pathways · RCP scenarios

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Cite this article as: Shim C, Seo J, Han J, Ha J, Ro TH, Hwang YS, Oh JJ (2017) Projection of future hot weather events and potential population exposure to this in South Korea. Clim Res 72:29-38.

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