The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first major update to its 2007 assessment on the link between climate change and extreme weather events last week at a conference in Kampala, Uganda.
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The special report, compiled by 220 scientists in 62 countries, illustrates a frighteningly bleak future. In short, we should brace ourselves for an increase in dangerous extreme weather events, including heat waves, droughts, heavy rains, and hurricanes.
Developing countries will suffer the greatest economic and human losses from from weather- and climate-related disasters due both to their natural geographic location and reduced ability to cope with the consequences of global warming.
Because extreme events are rare, and scientists have limited data to base long-terms changes on, the report uses a list of common terms to quantify the probability of various outcomes:
- Virtually certain (99-100% probability)
- Very Likely (90-100% probability)
- Likely (66-100% probability)
- About as likely as not (33-66% probability)
- Unlikely (0-33% probability)
- Extremely unlikely (0-10% probability)
- Exceptionally unlikely (0-1% probability
The following takes a look at key projected changes in global climate and weather extremes, along with scientists’ degree of confidence that these changes will occur.
It is VIRTUALLY CERTAIN that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm days and nights and decreases in cold days and nights will occur throughout the 21st century on a global scale
The average maximum wind speed of tropical cyclones is LIKELY to increase, although not in all ocean basins
The global frequency of tropical cyclones is LIKELY to either decrease or remain essentially unchanged
Average sea level rise coupled with the likely increase in hurricane wind speed will continue to inundate tropical small island states
Droughts will intensify over the coming century in southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil, and southern Africa
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