Climate Extremes: The Science, Impacts and Policy Relevance

Auroop Ganguly


Climate extremes may be defined inclusively as severe hydrological or weather events, as well as significant regional changes in hydro-meteorology, which are caused or exacerbated by climate change. Climate modelers and statisticians struggle to develop precise projections of climate extremes. Thus, predictive skills of climate models can be critically evaluated by investigating the accuracy of the projected extremes, which in turn may provide guidance on model improvements and uncertainty reduction. In addition, uncertainties in climate extremes propagate to consequence analysis. One of the most significant knowledge gap relevant for policymakers and stakeholders remains the inability to produce credible estimates of local to regional scale climate extremes impacts. On the other hand, climate extremes and their impacts strongly influence emissions policy negotiations as well as adaptation and mitigation strategies. While the IPCC AR4 has resulted in a wide acceptance of human-induced climate change, the AR5 is expected to be more focused on climate extremes, impacts and their uncertainties, at regional and decadal scales. This presentation discusses the science, impacts and policy relevance of climate extremes.

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