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931. Extreme Weather in 2023 Sets Stage for Record-Breaking 2024

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931. Extreme Weather in 2023 Sets Stage for Record-Breaking 2024


World Weather Attribution, which analyzes the causal relationship between extreme events and climate change, concluded late last year, on December 22, that climate change has intensified extreme weather events in 2023 and predicted more record-breaking events in 2024.

After six consecutive months of record-breaking temperatures, 2023 is expected to be the hottest year on record. Rising temperatures have caused regions of the world to experience unprecedented extreme weather events.

In the Horn of Africa, massive flooding claimed 300 lives, on the heels of a drought that created a food security crisis for millions. In both cases, the impact of climate change is clear.

In August, Europe, North America, and China experienced a multi-week heat wave, a rare or unlikely event without anthropogenic warming.

In September, torrential rains in Libya caused three dams to collapse, killing more than 3,400 people. Although conflict and poor maintenance of the dams were the immediate causes of the disaster, climate change was found to have increased the intensity of the rains by up to 50%.

This year's wildfires in Canada were the most destructive in recorded history, covering 18 million hectares, 10 million hectares more than previously recorded. Hot, dry and windy conditions caused by climate change have made forest fires at least twice as likely in Quebec.

These are just some of the disasters observed this year. In 2023, the WWA reviewed more than 120 extreme events with significant human impact worthy of analysis and analyzed 14 of them in detail. Of these, 5 were heat waves, 5 were heavy rains, 3 were droughts, and 1 was a wildfire. By region, 6 were in Africa, 4 in Europe, 2 in North America, 2 in South America, 3 in Asia, and 1 in Australia (some analyses covered multiple regions).

Raising global awareness of changing extreme events requires a balance of countries and continents to be analyzed, but there are challenges. In June, an attempt was made to analyze the torrential rains that caused floods that killed nearly 600 people in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, a lack of data prevented conclusions about the impact of climate change. This highlights the need for investment in weather stations and climate science to analyze the changing extreme weather events in Central Africa.

Another heat wave is predicted for 2024. Anthropogenic climate change and the natural phenomenon of El Niño are projected to result in higher temperatures in 2024 than in 2023. 1.2°C warming has already caused disasters for millions of people. The intensity and frequency of extreme weather events are expected to increase as fossil fuel burning warms. To minimize loss and damage, the world must strengthen adaptation and mitigation measures. Vulnerable and impoverished groups will be particularly affected by extreme weather events, and climate change will also increase inequality. Addressing the vulnerability of these segments of society, as well as moving away from fossil fuels and toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, is critical to world peace.

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Information Program)


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