According to the 2007 IPCC assessment, a warmer climate influences precipitation patterns and ecosystems. An alarming consequence of this is the reinforced effect on natural disasters, that are predicted to increase in quantity and extent accross the globe (UN Environment Programme IPCC, 2009). Warmer weather reinforces both extreme cold and heat waves, causing severe problems for established societies worldwide (UN Environment Programme IPCC, 2009).
Some of the challenges linked with climate change are extreme heat, floods, draughts, hurricanes and tornadoes, parasitic diseases, melting glaciers, deforestation and erosion.
Floods and draughts are some of the most common natural disasters caused by global warming. Changes in precipitation leads to increased or decreased rainfall in certain areas on the globe. Both floods and draughts can lead to crop failures, famine and high tolls.
The most noticable changes lie in abnormal precipitation intensity. Both regarding human lives and damage to infrastructure, rainfall can cause major destruction. Flash floods are more probable to occur in highly populated areas such as cities due to large areas covered by infrastructure such as roads and buildings. An example is the recent disaster in Pakistan, which affected twenty million people (ReliefWeb, 2010). Water covered up to one-fifth of the country, and 1,2 million homes were damaged or destroyed (British Red Cross, 2010).
Just like some parts of the globe experiences increased percipitation, other areas will get decreased rainfall. The result is draught, with water shortage and failed crops. Predictions by IPCCshow that the subtropics will be most severely hit in the future. In addition, melting glaciers make rivers decrease in volume or disappear completely, forcing inhabitants to move or seek other sources.
Photos: Up right: Leon Prebeau-Menezez and I presenting in India. Hopefully we will get to do another presentation in March, this time in Dubai. Up left: Result of increased precipitation. Floods occur with intensified strength, and also in new areas.