Recent advances in data analysis, climate models and computer power have made it possible to study the extent to which extreme weather events can be associated with global warming caused by human activities. Even taking into consideration natural climatic variations, some of the extreme events of the last decade or so can be shown to be attributed to humanity burning fossil fuels which contribute to atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Extreme weather events are not evenly distributed around the world. Some regions are more susceptible to floods, storms or droughts than others, but there is a tendency for most places to be getting hotter and wetter. In the 21st century more droughts are predicted in subtropical regions, increasing the likelihood of wildfires. Heat waves and extreme high temperatures will continue to increase, including in Europe. There will be fewer cold extremes across the globe, although more severe winters are expected in Europe, North America and East Asia, following summers when there has been a large reduction in the area of Arctic sea ice.

The Science and Technology Panel has published three versions of this paper on extreme weather: Summary, Lay version, Technical version.

Attachments

AttachmentSize
Extreme weather summary83.24 KB