EGU24-19195, updated on 11 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Impacts of Climate Change on the Energetics and Ecosystem Material Cycles and Extreme Weather Events: An East Asian Case study

Hun Park, Cholho Song, and Woo-Kyun Lee
Hun Park et al.
  • Korea University, OJEong Resilience Institute, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (

Climate change is altering weather patterns around the world, and one notable effect is changes in the jet stream that controls weather systems. As the polar regions warm faster than lower latitudes, the temperature difference that drives the jet stream winds decreases, causing them to become more frequent and the air masses to stagnate. This could lead to prolonged periods of extreme weather, including deadly heat waves, floods and droughts. An example of this can be seen in 2018, when a heat wave broke record high temperatures in Korea due to blocking (a phenomenon in which air flow stagnates in the upper mid-latitudes, weakening westerly winds and causing strong north-south winds) by Rossby waves. Life-threatening heat persists without an increase in low-pressure systems that bring cooling rain.

This study uses a systems ecology approach to examine the interactions between energy and material cycles in interconnected ecosystems in East Asia. The region's rapid urbanization, industrial growth, and high population density have significantly altered heat and material flows and cycles. These anthropogenic changes, together with natural climate variability, have complex and far-reaching impacts on regional climate patterns and ecosystem health.

East Asia's built environment and demographics have fundamentally disrupted natural stability mechanisms. Rapid development has replaced heat-reflecting green spaces with heat-absorbing concrete structures, reducing evaporative cooling capacity. Sprawling road systems filled with vehicle heat exacerbate urban heat islands.

In addition, climate-induced changes in the natural cycles of water, carbon, and nutrients link ecosystems in complex ways. Quantifying changes in cycling by evaluating historical data and models provides a basis for predicting ecosystem stability and resilience in the face of climate change. For example, a decrease in relative humidity in an area increases the risk of wildfires as moisture is removed from dead grass, fallen trees, and leaves. In areas with low relative humidity and abundant fuel-rich vegetation, the risk of wildfires may increase, particularly in winter and spring. A systematic understanding of these dynamics is essential to guide regional climate change adaptation planning.

Finally, the study translates its findings into policy recommendations. By analyzing the positive impacts of increased plant cover on humidity and overall ecosystem water availability, this study provides actionable steps towards a more resilient East Asia.

Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the Core Research Institute Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2021R1A6A1A10045235).

How to cite: Park, H., Song, C., and Lee, W.-K.: Impacts of Climate Change on the Energetics and Ecosystem Material Cycles and Extreme Weather Events: An East Asian Case study, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-19195,, 2024.