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A Century of Extreme Storms

Posted: November 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Climate Change, Ecology, Science, Science News, Science of Green | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on A Century of Extreme Storms

CLIMATE CHANGEAs the Earth’s climate warms, United Nations scientists are predicting an increase in heat waves, rainfall and flooding, stronger cyclones and more intense droughts across the globe this century.

In a report released last week in Uganda, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC – urged countries to rapidly adopt disaster management plans to adapt to the growing risk of extreme weather. The report gives differing probabilities for weather events, but the thrust is that extreme weather is likely to increase and that the likely cause is humans.

The IPCC defines “likely” as a 66-100 per cent probability, while “virtually certain” is 99-100 per cent. The report says it’s virtually certain that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes will occur on the global scale in the 21st century.

A 1-in-20 year hottest day is likely to become a 1-in-2 year event by the end of the 21st century in most regions. It is very likely that the length, frequency and intensity of heat waves will increase.  Heat waves would likely get hotter by 1-3 degrees Celsius by mid-21st century and by 2-5 degrees by late-21st century ::::

A Century of Extreme Storms

The report predicts that there is medium chance that droughts will intensify due to reduced precipitation and increased evapotranspiration in the Mediterranean. The report also predicts that there is a high chance that landslides would be triggered by shrinking glaciers and permafrost.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries are due to meet in South Africa on November 28 for climate talks, the most likely outcome of these talks are modest steps toward a broader agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC report found human emissions have “likely” caused more extreme heat waves and sea surges, but is less sure about the link between man-made climate change and worse flooding.

The report says, there is evidence that some weather extremes have changed as a result of anthropogenic influences, including increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. The risks posed by increasingly erratic weather have been highlighted by a spate of disasters in recent years, flooding in Thailand and Australia, droughts in east Africa and Russia and hurricanes in the Caribbean.

The United Nations, the International Energy Agency and others say global pledges to curb emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are not enough to prevent the planet heating up beyond 2 degrees Celsius, a threshold scientists say risks an unstable climate in which weather extremes are common.

The report recommended that action be taken now to shore up the defences of vulnerable states, including early warning systems, better land use planning, restoring ecosystems that act as buffers, enforcing building codes and weather-proofing infrastructure.

The reports co-author Chris Fields said “It is likely the frequency of heavy precipitation will increase in the 21st century over many areas, especially in high latitudes and tropical regions”

Sceptics have questioned the models used by IPCC to make its climate predictions, but Fields defended the science: “There are many cases in which just from observations, we’ve seen a change. Climate models are only some of the tools used to make future projections. Some are based on projecting historical data forward or what we know about the physics of the system. Lots of observations are built-in for us to test how they work.”

“The IPCC report brings home the inescapable fact: that climate change is causing an escalation in impacts” said Greenpeace climate policy coordinator Maria Ryding

source: reuters

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