UN Climate Panel Report Links Climate Change and Weather Extremes

April 02, 2012

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on Wednesday last week, warning that there is evidence from observations gathered since 1950 of change in some weather and climate extremes, including heat waves and record high temperatures.

“Evidence of climate change is expressing itself to people in different parts of the world in lots of different ways.  There are some places in the world where there has been an increase in droughts, especially in Southern Europe and Africa.  In other parts of the world there have been increases in heavy rainfall events.  We’ve seen that especially in North America,” said the Co-Chair of the IPCC Working Group II, Chris Field, a climate expert with the Carnegie Institution for Science in a video overview of the report.

The 592-page Special Report is named, “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)” and is the first to focus on extreme weather changes whereas past IPCC reports highlighted the gradual rise of temperatures and oceans.

SREX is the world’s most current assessment of climate change risks.  The report is aimed at policymakers and its main thrust is that enough is known about climate change for the world’s leaders to start making decisions about how to handle the risks.

The report does not address reducing greenhouse gas emissions which have been blamed in large part for increasing climate change.  Instead, it offers a range of strategies for adapting to a warmer world.  Although mitigation of climate change is not the focus of this report, adaptation and mitigation can complement each other and together can significantly reduce the risks of climate change.

“It’s beginning to dawn on people that something is going on; that something bigger is afoot.  The frontline of climate change is in the backyard,” said Susanne Moser of Susanne Moser Research & Consulting.  Nations need to act now, because increasingly extreme weather is already a trend.

For more information or to read the full report from the IPCC, click this link.