Considering the recent extreme weather events around the globe, Meteomatics reviews the need to understand local Climate Change Impacts. Easy access to relevant local historical and climate projection data allows communities and businesses to focus on the analysis of relevant potential Climate Change Impacts. Collaboration with experts accelerates understanding of Climate Change Risks, informs required adaptation measures and may identify opportunities.
2021 has already seen significant severe weather events impacting communities and businesses across the globe. Most recently record rainfalls across Europe (Cologne received 157mm in 24 hours on 14th July) resulted in massive flooding, more than 225 fatalities (mainly in Germany and Belgium), and extensive property damage. Zhengzhou, Henan province in China, received 617mm of rainfall between 17th and 20th July and in the peak hour more than 200mm), a year’s worth of rain causing more than 300 fatalities and significant damage to infrastructure. At the same time, other parts of the world have faced incessant and extreme heat such as 49.6°C in Lytton, British Columbia province in Canada, and now Southern Europe is experiencing a protracted heat wave, helping create conditions for extensive wildfires that are currently raging across Italy, Greece and Turkey.
The 6th IPCC report on Climate Change published on 9 August 2021 (i) provides evidence that the changes in extreme weather patterns are likely caused by human activity and (ii) anticipates that the new patterns will continue to persist and even worsen very likely at least until the period 2040-60 under all scenarios.
The high frequency of severe weather events has shaken the world and provides very tangible indications that we are experiencing more severe weather more frequently: an effect aligned to the Climate Change Impacts predicted by science. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the detrimental impact of Climate Change is critical. What is being done to identify potential local impacts on communities and businesses around the world quickly and to help them prepare and adapt to the New Normal of Climate Change?
Any action to mitigate Climate Change Impacts needs to be informed by data and quantified impact assessments
In a recent speech, US president Joe Biden said that the "recent heat waves were tied to Climate Change", as he pitched a plan to upgrade the country’s infrastructure. This draws attention to a core problem of Climate Change research: it has mostly been conducted with a view to assessing global, long-term effects of greenhouse gas emission scenarios. “While our overall expectation is that in a warmer world we will see an increase in such events, the details of where, when and how, remain elusive,” says Christian Jakob, Professor for Climate Modelling at Monash University. The potential local effects frequently have only played a minor role – a clear gap in understanding considering the recent evidence that a 'New Normal' may already be much closer than 2100 or even 2050.
There is growing concern that the financial markets are becoming vulnerable to abrupt corrections due to risks and impacts brought on by the changing climate. Initiatives such as the Task Force for Financial Disclosure (TCFD), updated risk factor guidance by IFRS and multiple central bank stress tests try to address this concern.
The ability to accurately assess exposure to Climate Change Risk and plan for appropriate mitigation is frequently impacted by both the lack of knowledge and access to localized climate change projection data. The TCFD identified that companies lack the ability to perform climate scenario analysis to understand the resilience of businesses under different Climate Change scenarios. There is a recommendation that companies and communities should “seek external experts to assist with scenario and model evaluation, selection, and interpretation”.
The recent evidence of the unfolding climate crisis has highlighted the importance of both governments ascertaining the Climate Change Impacts on their societies, and communities that they serve, plus business leaders assessing commercial impacts across their portfolios. Whilst climate projection data has long been available, the availability and usefulness of climate projection data for localized effects have been restricted, mainly due to technical reasons and lack of focus until now.
Meteomatics Climate Changes Services: helping clients understand and assess exposure to Climate Change
Meteomatics has designed a client-centric service to help businesses identify, assess, and plan for the risks and opportunities presented by Climate Change. Meteomatics Climate Change Services are backed by a rich and readily available database of CMIP6 climate projections out to 2100 and strong meteorological know-how. The Meteomatics' API service focuses on making meteorological data available hyperlocally. The combination of climate projection data and the API specialized in localizing meteorological data addresses one of the core challenges of making Climate Change Impact assessments easily and commercially viable. Furthermore, our experts are available to help communities and businesses to identify and interpret their exposure to the ‘true, physical’ Climate Change Impacts.
Meteomatics offers unique insight into the physical Climate Change Impacts:
Quantification of hyperlocal physical Climate Change Impact
- Ability to convert commercial problems and questions into analytical frameworks
- Tailoring of analysis of specific meteorological and business parameters to client needs
- Initial, high level assessments and asset or portfolio deep dives
- Addressing both the effects of New Normal and extreme events
- Scenario analysis with most recent CMIP6 scenarios
What are the key impacts and mechanisms of the climate crisis?
Rising temperatures increasing the frequency and severity of storms:
Severe flooding events, similar to what Germany and surrounding countries experienced, appear to be more likely in the future according to Hayler Fowler, a hydroclimatologist at Newcastle University. “For every 1.8°C of warming, scientists estimate that the atmosphere can hold about 7% more moisture. With more moisture in the atmosphere, formations like the low-pressure system over Europe or tropical storms will produce more rainfall”.
In addition, storms are likely to become slower moving in Europe (particularly in summer and autumn) due to an Arctic amplification. With Arctic temperatures warming at a rate two to three times faster than the rest of the planet the difference in temperature between the equator and poles decreases potentially slowing down the jet stream and thus movement of weather systems.
Climate Change is increasing the number of extreme heat events, impacting health, infrastructure and fire risk:
The Northwest of the USA and Southwestern part of Canada experienced record-breaking temperatures in June 2021, with Portland reaching 46.6°C, Seattle 42°C and Lytton 49.6°C. All caused by a dome of static high-pressure hot air stretching from California to the Arctic territories, buckling roads, melting power cables, and causing hundreds of fatalities.
Attention has now shifted to another very visible impact of the climate crisis: the 2021 European Wildfires, with a heatdome in place over southern Europe creating hot and dry conditions for fires to take hold over extensive areas, including Italy (second-worst season on record), Greece and Turkey, where the heat intensity was four times higher than the previous Turkish record, with 128,000 hectares (316,000 acres) have burned – eight times higher than the average, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.
The situation in Europe appears to from over, as the fire risk continues with high temperatures forecasted for Spain (predicted to reach 45°C). Almost all of southern Europe is covered by warnings of extreme fire risk with very dry soil conditions, making the situation very dangerous.
The 2021 wildfire season has already started early in California and other Western states. These states experience a continuing trend of more favorable wildfire conditions: prolonged periods of drought and continued (extreme) heat.
Fire risks have worsened in western USA over last 30 years, with notable continued effect since 2012
(Source: Meteomatics, J-H Yoon et al. 2015)
The effects of raging wildfires are not limited locally: ash clouds from California have reached as far as New York City creating hazardous air conditions for millions of people.