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Extreme weather on the increase

Road flooded, Alice Springs 2008

Experts say climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events. This shows flooding in Central Australia, 2008

Today is World Meteorological Day. An appropriate date to consider some of the findings reported at the Extreme Weather Congress which has been taking place in Hamburg over the last few days. Paul Becker, the President of Germany’s weather service, said extreme weather events here had more than tripled since the 1970s. Professor Peter Höppe from the German reinsurance group Munich Re explained how changes in the atmosphere played a role in bringing about this increase. And Professor Mojib Latif from the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel told the conference climate change would continue, as current efforts to reduce CO2 emissions are insufficient. The 2° goal, he said, was only still possible in theory. Experts are calling for better preparedness for severe weather. I’d like to give you some links to English-language coverage of the conference findings, but there seems to be a shortage. German media have given some attention to the conference reporting the rising number of extreme weather events here, but not masses. Here’s hoping we’re not all getting so used to all this that people lose interest in reducing emissions and helping to stabilise the climate. Clearly, the impact hits developing countries harder. But we don’t need to wait for the next catastrophe before tackling the risks.

Date

March 23, 2012 | 11:23 am

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Arctic Ice and our Weather

Sea ice off Greenland

Sea ice off Greenland

Apologies for a long spell of ice-blog silence, but your ice blogger is now back on the

(snow?-) ball.

The German papers today tell us to expect temperatures dropping to as low as MINUS 20 C in the course of this week. After a relatively mild winter so far, this will be a shock to the system for a lot of people. And of course, we’ll be back to the old discussion about how it can be this cold when the world is warming… Somehow people are more willing to accept that the climate is changing when the plants are all starting to come up ahead of time. But maybe the cold snap will help draw attention to a new study by Germany’s Alfred-Wegener Institute explaining the connection between the extent of the Arctic sea ice in summer and our winter weather in central Europe.

Date

January 31, 2012 | 12:07 pm

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“When the snow lay round about” – because of global warming?


Snow on trees – beautiful, if you ask me, and appropriate weather for this time of year. Of course not everybody sees it that way. Most of the people supposedly always “Dreamin’ of a white Christmas…” have been whinging non-stop since the snow started, admittedly a good bit ahead of the feast itself.
And then, yes, off we went. They’re at it again. Newspapers, people on the (much delayed) train, friends on the telephone… the same old story… “so much for climate change. Do you know how much snow is on my doorstep…?”
Well I was in a way relieved to know that George Monbiot has been encountering the same problem – and has a suitable explanation to hand. Let me direct you to “That snow outside is what global warming looks like” in a recent edition of the Guardian.
“The cold has reason in a deathly grip” – does that sound a bit drastic?

Date

December 28, 2010 | 3:44 pm

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Climate change – bad for your health?


As the negotiations kick off in Cancun (and the opening speeches seem to repeat the message of low expectations and going for partial compromises discussed in the last blog), I’m looking at this flyer, lying on my desk . The possible impact of climate change and extreme weather events caused by climate change on health is an “in” topic in Bonn this week. The German Environment Ministry, Federal Environment agency, German Meterological Office DWD and the European Office of the WHO are holding a joint two-day symposium. I went to the opening press conference at the Ministry yesterday. There’s more information on the background and the issue of health implications here:
Extreme weather events require precautions and adaptation
Tonight I am chairing a panel discussion here at Deutsche Welle on the same topic, that\’s why the flyer is on my desk. The floods in Pakistan this year and the fires in Russia are amongst the examples being discussed of the type of extreme weather events and disasters likely to be on the increase with a changing climate. Obviously, they have an impact on human health. The spread of diseases to areas where they haven’t been prevalent before, like Dengue fever in Europe, will also be on the agenda.
The discussion is the eighth in a series called the Bonn Dialogues. The city of Bonn is active in the network of cities working to combat climate change. It’s also of course the home of the UNFCCC, now busy in Cancun. And it houses the United Nations University UNU-EHS, the IHDP, International human dimensions programme on global environment change, and the DKKV, that’s the German catastrophe prevention organisation, who are organising the conference. I’ll be interested to hear what our panelists have to say. I’ll keep you posted.

Date

November 30, 2010 | 12:59 pm

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Happy Icy New Year

Happy New Year Ice Blog readers. I have been on holiday enjoying the winter weather in Germany and the UK. A lot of people are complaining about the cold and the bad road conditions and delays on planes and trains – but I for one am happy to have a real winter. What else would you expect from the ice-blogger? Some colleagues reckon this will save me an Arctic trip…
There is a lot of talking and joking as usual about whether the extreme winter conditions will undermine the acceptance that humankind is affecting the climate.
I was interested to read in the British press today that some British newspapers have even been taking the name of Professor Mojib Latif in vain, a respected climate expert at the Leibniz Institute of Kiel University Germany – whom I have interviewed several times. Two conservative papers apparently misinterpreted his research as signalling a switch from global warming to cooling. Fortunately (i.e. in the interests of the truth and no misrepresentation) today’s edition of The Guardian puts his research into context and quotes him as affirming his strong belief in man-made global warming.Prof Latif says the cold spell is short-term “weather” and not a cooling related to ocean cooling which he describes in his work. He also compares the complexity of the climate problem to Einstein’s theory of relativity and stresses the difficulty of presenting it accurately in the media. I’ll second that, but keep doing my best.

Before I stop for today I’d like to draw your attention to a comment posted by David Scrimgeour under the last entry.
He draws attention to the question of how clean technologies are going to be trasferred across borders, and what incentives there will be for example to German companies to invest in projects in potentially risky locations. Good question, David.
I personally think companies will only go into this if they know there is a market, and a market with a future. We need clear signals from governments – which we didn’t really get in Copenhagen – but we also need to draw companies’ attention to the finance experts who say it will ultimately be cheaper to work against global warming, and to all the studies which indicate the future lies with clean technology which does not put a burden on the climate. And of course companies are ultimately interested in making a profit. Look how some energy companies have realised fossil fuels are finite and are getting into alternative renewables – to secure their future.
Any other views on this?

Date

January 12, 2010 | 3:03 pm

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