Future of the Environment

Explainer: What the new IPCC report says about extreme weather and climate change

a local resident paddles a kayak over a flooded street as severe flooding affects the suburb of Windsor after days of heavy rain in the state of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, March 24, 2021

Weather and climate extremes are getting worse and can significantly be attributed to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, according to an IPCC report Image: REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Robert McSweeney
Science Editor, Carbon Brief
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IPCC table of calibrated language for describing quantified uncertainty, from the IPCC guidance note for lead authors of the IPCC fifth assessment report on consistent treatment of uncertainties (AR6 follows the same approach)
The Likelihood Scale. Image: IPCC

maps taken from the report’s Summary for Policymakers, showing how climate change is “already affecting every inhabited region” across the world
Climate change is already having a large impact across the globe. Image: IPCC 2021

the maps show how annual hottest temperature (left), coldest temperature (middle) and number of “warm days” (right) have changed across the world since 1960
How temperatures have changed across the world since 1960. Image: IPCC 2021

these maps show future projections of annual maximum temperature (top) and annual minimum temperature (bottom) under 1.5C (left), 2C (middle) and 4C (right) of warming
Projected temperature changes across the world. Image: IPCC

Have you read?

the maps below present future projections of annual maximum daily precipitation under 1.5C (left), 2C (middle) and 4C (right) of warming
A projection of flooding. Image: IPCC 2021

a diagram showing how climate change can increase the severity of different types of floods
The relationship between climate change and severe flooding. Image: IPCC 2021

a diagram highlighting the climatic drivers of drought and the impacts on water availability
Climactic drivers of drought. Image: IPCC 2021
maps showing observed changes across the world over the last 60-70 years using three different drought metrics
A 'drying trend' can be seen across the globe. Image: IPCC 2021

the maps below show projected changes in the frequency and intensity of one-in-10-year soil moisture drought for June-to-August and December-to-February at 1.5C, 2C and 4C of global warming
An increase is predicted in the frequency and intensity of droughts. Image: IPCC 2021

this diagram summarises the past and projected global and regional changes for tropical cyclones, as well as for extratropical cyclones and that is, those outside of the tropics – and severe convective storms and atmospheric rivers
Global changes for tropical cyclones. Image: IPCC 2021


What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Synthesis table on observed changes in extremes and contribution by human influences. Note that 46 observed changes in marine extremes are assessed in the Cross-Chapter Box 9.1 in Chapter 9.
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Related topics:
Future of the EnvironmentClimate ChangeClimate IndicatorsSDG 13: Climate Action
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