More Evidence of Link Between Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Steve Zwick

Exttreme weather events are on the rise, and climate-change is driving the increase in both frequency and intensity.  That’s the conclusion of a new IPCC report, which also lays out policy guidance for adapting to such events before it’s too late.

28 March 2012 | Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and droughts…

They’re all on the increase, everywhere you look – just as climate models predict.   But is climate change really driving these events, or are we simply enduring a period of turbulence?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we can’t link individual climate events to climate change, but that climate change probably is, indeed, responsible for the increased frequency and intensity of such events.

That’s the core finding of its Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX), released today.

The report also examines the circumstances that turn extreme events into unmitigated disasters, and lays out policies designed to avoid, prepare for, respond to and recover from the risks of disaster.

At the same time, as the IPCC notes in the report, limits to resilience are faced when thresholds or tipping points associated with social and/or natural systems are exceeded, posing severe challenges for adaptation.

“The main message from the report is that we know enough to make good decisions about managing the risks of climate-related disasters. Sometimes we take advantage of this knowledge, but many times we do not,” said Chris Field, Co-Chair of IPCC’s Working Group II, which together with Working Group I produced the report. “The challenge for the future has one dimension focused on improving the knowledge base and one on empowering good decisions, even for those situations where there is lots of uncertainty.”

The IPCC released the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the report in November 2011. The full report released today provides the basis for the key conclusions first presented in the SPM. It offers a greater understanding of the human and economic costs of disasters and the physical and social patterns that cause them. It enables policy-makers to delve into the detailed information behind the findings to examine the material on which the IPCC based its assessments.

The report is the outcome of cross-disciplinary teamwork between scientists studying the physical aspects of climate change, scientists with expertise in impacts, adaptation and vulnerability as well as experts in disaster risk management.


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