· ·

SREX summary by IPCC – Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a summary of its special report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation – SREX. The summary was released after three years of assessing climate models and new evidence- has spoken out on the issue. The full report will be released in early 2012. The SREX report considers in depth nine extreme phenomena: extreme warm and cold days, hottest days, heat waves, heavy precipitation, tropical cyclone activity, extra-tropical storms, droughts, extreme coastal high waters, and patterns of natural variability.

The IPCC goes beyond determining the influence of climate change on weather extremes now and in the future; it also talks about the risks that could turn these extreme events into disasters, and how to manage them and adapt to the changed circumstances. Navigating through the summary can sometimes be tricky, and you are never quite sure what a “high or a medium confidence level” means.

Insufficient data on extreme events because they occur rarely means that attributing a single extreme event to anthropogenic, or man-made, global warming is a challenge. Scientists cannot therefore directly link the 2003 heat wave to climate change.

Sea-level rise

There are some projections about sea-level rise – not an extreme event – but because it interacts with extreme coastal high waters after cyclones and storm surges, the scientists said it warranted attention. Sea levels will rise and very high levels of water in coastal areas will be recorded. If a cyclone now leads to a high-water level that is just below the protection standard of a coastal city, then in 50 years’ time, due to sea-level rise, a cyclone of the same magnitude (which may well have become more frequent by then) would lead to a high-water level that exceeds the protection standard (if the flood defences haven’t been upgraded).

Record temperatures

Many extreme weather events are a result of natural climate variability, the report says. Yet the IPCC found that on a global scale, man-made causes such as the emission of greenhouse gases was influencing extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures, and extreme high coastal waters. Generally, the higher the emissions and the mean climate change, the more extreme events will change their characteristics. Even relatively small changes in the mean temperature, for example, cause an increase in the number of hottest days.

In most land areas where the IPCC found sufficient data on recorded temperatures, a one-in-20 year hottest day is likely to become a 1-in-2 year event by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked. The frequency of recorded extreme low temperatures will decrease. The length, frequency, and/or intensity of heatwaves will increase in most land areas. The frequency and intensity of rainfall will increase, especially in areas in high latitudes and tropical regions, and during winter on land in the mid-latitudes.

Tropical cyclones

The scientists are uncertain about how tropical cyclones might have changed in the past 40 years because of lack of data and understanding of the process, and the quality of older data. The assessment for the projection of tropical cyclone activity concludes a likely increase of maximum wind speed. The IPCC is highly confident that tropical cyclones – also called typhoons or hurricanes – will become more intense, but not in all oceans.


The IPCC cannot say with complete certainty that in the coming century droughts will intensify in southern Europe, the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America, Mexico, northeast Brazil and southern Africa, as projected by some climate models.

This is because of a range of results that are obtained by projections from current climate models, and the way this phenomenon is simulated in these models. New studies showed that the influence of soil moisture is very important, and these processes are not simulated comprehensively in all the climate models that were analysed.

Disaster losses

From 1970 to 2008, more than 95 percent of disaster-related deaths occurred in developing countries.  There is robust evidence showing that a repeated process of learning through monitoring, research, evaluation, and innovation can reduce disaster risk. The vulnerability of countries and people is a key factor in disaster losses, but it is not well accounted for in studies that examine links with climate change.  The policy discourse of adaptation in the UNFCCC and in many countries still focuses on addressing climate risk and not on promoting socio-economic development.

Snapshots of case studies

In a taste of what to expect from the full report, the summary provides snapshots of case studies undertaken for the report, with a likely scenario pointing out the risk factors in a particular area, and what can be done to manage or adapt to them. For instance, it is likely that rain will increase in East Africa, which could cause flash floods in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

It also lists the risk factors – rapid growth of informal settlements, weak building construction, settlements built near rivers, inadequate drainage – and suggests actions to manage the risks, such as reducing poverty, strengthening buildings, setting up early warning systems, and improving drainage and sewage. (IRIN)


Commenting rules and guidelines

We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:

  • Treat others with kindness and respect.
  • Stay on topic and contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.
  • Do not use abusive or hateful language.
  • Do not spam or promote unrelated products or services.
  • Do not post any personal information or content that is illegal, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate.

We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.


  1. 1 more point. Since BP went a made a real mess. As soon as our scientists are allowed to report that the Gulf Stream has stalled. Yes I said allowed to report. I’m sure some of these papers will change greatly. YES storm intensity will increase and wind speed will too, maybe by 15 to 20 % this year alone. Some places will get more winter than they know what to do with, while others will enjoy shorts and T-shirts. I could never get my head around FEMA, until now. Coastal inundation is coming. Why. I believe that when enough oil is, 1 pumped out, 2 seeped out…its still leaking into the Ocean. The water pressure will soon crush that cavity and seal it off. The result will cause a tsunami that rips all Gulf coasts, maybe as much as 50 miles inland. G.L.

  2. Here is an example of people being total jerks Volkswagon gets almost 78 miles per gallon in Europe. Only made in the USA. Blue fusion tech. Cars are illegal in North America. Our Volkswagons only get about 42 mpg. Once you find out why, look into that!! its all a lie. Because of road tax’s- gasoline. They need the money!! They don’t give a crap about the pollution.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *