The study forecasts that some tropical cyclones — which include hurricanes in the United States — will be stronger because of global warming. But the number of storms is not predicted to increase and may drop slightly.
Some other specific changes in severe weather that the scientists said they had the most confidence in predicting include more heat waves and record hot temperatures worldwide and increased downpours in Alaska, Canada, northern and central Europe, East Africa and north Asia,
IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri told The Associated Press that while all countries are hurt by increased climate extremes, the overwhelming majority of deaths occur in poorer, less developed places. Yet, it is wealthy nations that produce more greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, raising the issue of fairness.
Some weather extremes aren't deadly, however. Sometimes, they are just strange.
Report co-author David Easterling of the National Climatic Data Center says this month's U.S. heat wave, while not deadly, fits the pattern of worsening extremes. The U.S. has set nearly 6,800 high temperature records in March. Last year, the United States set a record for billion-dollar weather disasters, though many were tornadoes.
"When you start putting all these events together, the insurance claims, it's just amazing," Easterling said. "It's pretty hard to deny the fact that there's got to be some climate signal."
Northeastern University engineering and environment professor Auroop Ganguly, who didn't take part in writing the IPCC report, praised it and said the extreme weather it highlights "is one of the major and important types of what we would call 'global weirding.'" It's a phrase that some experts have been starting to use more to describe climate extremes.
Field doesn't consider the term inaccurate, but he doesn't use it.
"It feels to me like it might give the impression we are talking about amusing little stuff when we are, in fact, talking about events and trends with the potential to have serious impacts on large numbers of people."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: http://www.ipcc.ch
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