Ukraine War Risks
Today (May 22) the risk of more uncertainty and destabilisation in Ukraine took a step closer. There has been an attack on a checkpoint in the Volnovakha region as well as continuing separatists fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This attack is going to lead to more unrest in the area which has a long and complicated history linked to resources and it’s geographical position of being in the middle of the Russian-Austrian power struggle for Central and Southern Europe.
Hopefully a regional solution will be forthcoming, but with vested interests and lack of meaningful dialogues the situation does not look good. It is almost one hundred years ago that Ukraine had a civil war (from 1917-1921): the recent events in the country have an all too familiar ring to them: external involvement, the seizing of military supplies and equipment as well as a strong revolutionary factor in the eastern side of the country. The initial conflict was caused by a desperate need for food: today there is a need to clear vast debts.
Sometimes history repeats itself? Let’s hope it does not for the sake of Ukraine and a wider region.
Two recent studies have demonstrated an increase in climate risks from flooding and the increasing number of extreme weather events. The studies are from the UK and the US. One is using “crowd sourced computing power” whilst the other is from the Government with more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee. Both reports review human-induced climate change and note extremes in weather patterns in the UK and USA. 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental United States for example and the recent winter was the wettest recorded at the home of the world’s longest daily rainfall records, in Oxford UK.
Climate Prediction: Greater Risks
The Climate Prediction Network is the world’s largest climate modelling experiment. It has confirmed that the recent record wet winter in the UK and associated flooding is due to climate changes. Oxford is home to the world’s longest daily rainfall record and this record shows that January 2014 was the wettest on record. It was also the wettest winter recorded. An experiment linked the empirical data to changes in the climate. As a result the theoretical 1 in 100 year (1% a year risk) major flood event will now be a 1 in 80 year (1.25% a year risk) event due to changes in the climate. Climate impacts are now changing risk levels so that there is more chance of a severe flood for example. This is typically going to be a localised impact that will affect only one country: other areas may be affected by fewer floods for example. There is a strong geographical element to the study on a national and continental scale as well as at the local level.
Details of the “ensembles” of weather simulations that were run can be found on the Causes of UK Floods page. Ensembles of weather simulations are a large number of runs of climate models that are run time and time again to represent the actual conditions and a world that is unchanged without additional greenhouse gases. The two sets of results are compared by looking at the numbers to consider if the wet winter has increased / decreased or being unaffected by human-induced emissions. The ensembles need to be as big as possible to obtain robust estimates of the probability of rare events: this is where crowd-sourcing computing really helps to improve the computer simulations: the more models run the better the results. Several thousand model runs were undertaken. The conclusions: a 1-in-100-year winter rainfall event (i.e. 1% risk of extreme rainfall in the winter of any given year) is now estimated to be a 1-in-80 year event (i.e. 1.25% risk of extreme rainfall in any given winter) so the risk of a very wet UK winter has increased by around 25%.
National Climate Assessment: Number of Extreme Weather Events Are Up
The USA’s report is the National Climate Assessment which has a detailed look at the USA climate impacts on society and the country generally. It has been compiled by many experts.
The US Government’s National Climate Assessment states that the number, and strength of, extreme weather events have increased over the past 50 years. It presents an overview of the likely impacts by geographic region across the United States. Various sectors are considered in terms of the likely climate impacts. The Mid-West and Great Plains areas are likely to be adversely affected by drought affecting agricultural production for example. There is talk about the climate change response strategy of mitigation (of climate impacts) or adaptation to changing climate conditions. Whilst there are some responses taking place, fundamentally the report argues that response actions are under development and the current implementation efforts are “insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences”.
More needs to be addressed and more rapidly.