March 30, 2012

Scientists Forecast Extreme Weather

With the rise of global warming also comes the rise in extreme weather predictions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports in their Special Report on Extremes (SREX) that poorer nations with high concentrations of populations are the most at risk in suffering in extreme weather disasters.

According to Chris Field, a Stanford University climate scientist, “We mostly experience weather and climate through the extreme. That´s where we have the losses. That´s where we have the insurance payments. That´s where things have to potential to fall apart.”

The scientists say a city like Mumbai in India could feel real effects from extreme weather. Parts of Mumbai could become uninhabitable from floods, storms and rising seas. The Herald-Tribune reports that in 2005, three-feet of rain fell on the city in a 24 hour period. More than 1,000 people died, and the weather caused extreme damage. Today, 2.7 million people still live in the city´s flood prone areas.

The report stresses the need to manage the risks and take precautions. One country that has learned to manage the risks from weather is Bangladesh. Field points out that in 1970 a Category 3 tropical cyclone hit Bangladesh and more than 300,000 people were killed. But the country was hit by a stronger storm in 2007 killing only 4,200 people. The success of the story comes from the investment in warning equipment and disaster prevention, even though lives were still lost.

The study also forecasts an increase in the strength of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes in the US. But the number of storms will likely decrease.

Recently the US has had a foretaste of the worsening extreme weather being predicted by the researchers. In the month of March. There were nearly 6,800 high temperature records set. In 2011 the number of billion-dollar weather disasters also increased, many of which were tornadoes.

Co-author David Easterling of the National Climatic Data Center said, “When you start putting all these events together, the insurance claims, it´s just amazing. It´s pretty hard to deny the fact that there´s got to be some climate signal.”


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