Seven climate change hotspots

Seven climate change hotspots

Mon, 26/06/2017 - 16:08
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An article in The Guardian explores 7 climate change ‘hot spots’ – key parts of the world where climate change could have devastating effects, be it the impact of hurricanes, heatwaves, drought or flooding. A summary of the article is presented below, but the full piece can be read here - the article also references research published in RMetS’ International Journal of Climatology journal.

1) Murcia, Spain

  • If warming rises 2degC, much of sorter Spain and the Mediterranean basin could become a desert.

  • Ecosystems not seen in the Mediterranean basin in more than 10,000 years could develop.

2) Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • Sea levels rise and increased salinity - erosion and saltwater intrusion on low-lying lands - five to 10 million people expected to have to move from the coastal areas in next 20 years

  • Weather pattern changes - what used to be a one-in-20-year flood event now occurs one year in five. Bangladesh not expected to receive more rain but distribution will differ i.e. less in the dry season (more drought), and more during monsoons (more flooding).

3) Mphampha, Malawi

  • Long-term climate data in southern Africa is sparse - evidence from local villagers confirm extremely high temperatures (46degC reached in 2016) and droughts are becoming more frequent, rains less regular but heavier when they occur, food supplies less certain, and the dry spells and floods are lasting longer.

  • Average annual temperatures across southern Africa may increase by up to 3C by the 2060s, and up to to 5C by the 2090s – a temperature that would render most human life nearly impossible.

  • Rainfall could decrease by 13% and increase in others by 32% in some places.

  • Locals must adapt their farming, restore their forests, improve their water supplies and grow their economies quickly to have any chance of surviving climate change.

4) Longyearbyen, Norway

  • Arctic experiencing most dramatic climate change

  • The average temperature for the whole of 2016 in Longyearbyen (650 miles from the North Pole) was near freezing, but it is usually –10degC.

  • Water temperatures on Svalbard have increased 10C or more over 30 years

  • Temperatures are changing, snow melting earlier and taking longer to freeze up, new species of fish.

  • Two 1,000-year event avalanches there in the last year.

  • More precipitation in northern Scandinavia and low pressure weather systems are taking a more northerly route.

  • Melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the Arctic glaciers

  • warming of permafrost temperatures

  • increased coastal erosion

  • northward migration of the tree line and species

  • At current emission rates of 35 to 40 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year could see ice-free conditions in September in about 20 years

5) Manaus, Brazil

  • More heatwaves - in 2015 the temperature in Manaus soared to 38.8C. Hot spells in such a humid climate are a real hazard to health.

  • Dry seasons are longer by a week than they were a decade ago

  • Weather is more erratic.

  • 1C warming in the Amazon, and in areas like Rondônia, where there has been widespread deforestation, there is an additional 1C warming due to replacement of forest (high-evapotranspiration) with pasture (low evaporanspiration).

  • Local rainfall changes that can have impacts further afield.

6) New York, US

  • Temperatures statewide have risen 1.3C since 1970, spring begins a week sooner than it did just a few decades ago, there is less winter snow and more intense downpours

  • Sea levels are rising at nearly twice the global rate

  • Birds and fish populations are all moving north

  • By 2050s sea level could rise nearly 76cm (30 inches), storm surges and flooding will be more common in coastal areas, West Nile virus and many other diseases could be prevalent.

7) Manila, Philippines

  • Sea-level rise, increasing temperatures, extreme weather events including tropical storms and heatwaves (more hot days and nights, fewer cold days and nights), and changes in precipitation (more extreme events) which lead to loss of homes and livelihoods, displacement of communities, water contamination, food scarcity, disease outbreaks, loss of life, effects on ecosystems and econmies.

  • Analysis of 70 years’ of data, published in the International Journal of Climatology, shows a small decrease in the number of smaller typhoons that hit the Philippines each year, but an increase in more intense ones possibly due to rising sea-surface temperatures since the 1970s.

  • Urban climate change–related risks are increasing – rising sea levels and storm surges, heat stress, extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, drought, increased aridity, water scarcity, and air pollution.