Extreme weather events in sharp rise according to a report

There were four times more floods in 2016 than in 1980. Extreme weather events have been more frequent over the last 36 years in a climate-changing world, according to a European report published on Wednesday.

The number of climatic events – heat waves, forest fires, storms, hurricanes, and more — more than doubled on average between 1980 and 2016, says the European Academies Science Advisory Counsil (EASAC), which updated a previous report of 2013 and calls on European leaders to act “urgently” to “better adapt infrastructures”.

In particular, extreme hydrological hazards (floods, erosion) have quadrupled, droughts have almsost doubled, resulting in massive economic losses. For example, the massive storms in North America alone generated $ 10 billion in losses in 1980, and nearly 20 in 2015, according to data partly from the natural catastrophe loss database NatCatSERVICE of the insurance company Munich Re.

With a small “positive note”: the rivers in Europe are experiencing more floods but the overall cost of these floods remains stable, suggesting that the protective measures have limited the damage.

“The trend towards extremes is continuing,” says Michael Norton, EASAC’s Environment Program Director (which brings together 27 academies of science from the EU, Norway and Switzerland. “We could experience these extremes more erratically,” he adds.

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“It is therefore even more important to avoid the greenhouse gases responsible for these changes” and, for the inevitable impacts, to strengthen protection plans, he says. “This report comes as the European Commission is getting ready to deliver an assessment of its climate strategy this year.”

The report also analyzes several factors of recrudescence of these bad weather, such as the variations of the Jet Stream and the Gulf Stream, both under the influence of global warming.

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Andrei Santov

Andrei, a sociologist by profession, born in Russia but currently located in UK, covers mostly European and Russia-related news for The Talking Democrat.