Climate change significant factor contributing to extreme heat events in the Philippines — expert

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) identified climate change as a significant contributor to the intensification of extreme heat events in the country.

In an interview with the Manila Bulletin on May 16, PAGASA weather specialist John Manalo said April temperatures in the Philippines have set new records because of several factors, such as climate change, El Niño, and high-pressure systems, with climate change being the “main factor.”


Manalo said that based on PAGASA's analysis of data from the past four years (2020-2024), including observations from representative stations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao—specifically Tuguegarao, Cebu, and Davao, including Metro Manila—there has been a “spike” in the heat index in Metro Manila, which aligns with an increase in temperature.

On April 27, Metro Manila, particularly the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Station in Pasay City, set a new all-time temperature record by reaching a peak of 38.8 degrees Celsius, surpassing the previous 38.6 degrees Celsius record on May 17, 1915.

“This also shows that the higher the temperature, the higher the heat index,” Manalo said.

0.77°C annual mean temp rise over past 5 decades

Manalo pointed out that climate change has exacerbated the extreme heat, referencing PAGASA data from 1951 to 2020, which shows a 0.77 degrees Celsius increase in the annual mean temperature across the country.

The 0.77-degree increase is most noticeable in low-lying areas such as Nueva Ecija, other parts of Central Luzon, Isabela, Cebu, Puerto Princesa, and some parts of Mindanao, he said.

“Kung sa tingin ng iba maliit lang ang 0.7 [degrees Celsius], pero in a larger scale, sa buong Pilipinas, kahit yung 0.7 degrees Celsius na ‘yun, malaki ang effect ‘nun (If others think that 0.7 degrees Celsius is small, but in a larger scale, in the whole Philippines, even that 0.7 degrees Celsius, it has a big effect),” Manalo said.

“Like sa biodiversity may nae-extinct na animals, nagkakaroon ng wildfire, nagdi-diminish ang forest area. Sa fisheries natin may coral bleaching na tinatawag. Sa very small na change sa temperature na yun ay malaki ang effect (Like in biodiversity, some animals become extinct, there are wildfires, and the forest area is diminishing. In our fisheries, there is what we call coral bleaching. A very small temperature change has a big effect),” he stressed.

Manalo also cited a study that indicated crop yield was lowered by about 10 percent for a 1-degree Celsius temperature increase.

Climate projections show that the annual mean temperature in the Philippines could rise by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius by the late 21st century, depending on the climate change scenario, he added.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that in April, the global average temperature soared 2.38 degrees Fahrenheit (1.32 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average of 56.7 degrees Fahrenheit (13.7 degrees Celsius).

This makes it the warmest April in the global climate record.

Similarly, a study conducted by a team of scientists from the World Weather Attribution revealed on May 14 that climate change contributed to the hotter-than-normal April days recorded in a number of Asian countries, including the Philippines.

These findings emphasized the urgent challenge posed by rising temperatures across the country.