Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance firms, recently issued the 2012 Severe Weather in North America study aimed at insurance companies.
According to Munich Re, nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. For the period concerned – 1980 to 2011 – the overall loss burden from weather catastrophes was US$ 1,060bn (in 2011 values).
While several factors contributed to the trend, the report claims “Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.”
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been warning of an increase in heat waves, torrential rains and floods. In most cases, it has not been proven that climate change has made the weather more extreme. As with any particular “weather-related loss event,” it’s difficult to associate Sandy to Climate Change. However, the storm may fit the general extreme weather pattern in North America and around the world, which is increasingly perceived as associated with Climate Change.
NASA scientists from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies also recently published a study (Perception of climate change, 2012) on the apparent increase in extreme heat waves. Extreme summertime heat, which a few decades ago affected below 1% of the earth’s surface, now typically covers about 10% of the land area. Scientists state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as heat waves were a consequence of global warming since their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.