22 MARCH, 2018
BY FLOODLIST NEWS
The very active North Atlantic hurricane season, major monsoon floods in the Indian subcontinent, and continuing severe drought in parts of east Africa contributed to 2017 being the most expensive year on record for severe weather and climate events.
The high impact of extreme weather on economic development, food security, health and migration was highlighted in the WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2017.
Compiled by the World Meteorological Organization with input from national meteorological services and United Nations partners, the report provides detailed information to support the international agenda on disaster risk reduction, sustainable development and climate change.
The Statement, now in its 25th year, was published for World Meteorological Day on 23 March, 2018. It confirmed that 2017 was one of the three warmest years on record and the warmest not influenced by an El Niño event. It also examined other long-term indicators of climate change such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, sea level rise, shrinking sea ice, ocean heat and ocean acidification.
“The start of 2018 has continued where 2017 left off – with extreme weather claiming lives and destroying livelihoods. The Arctic experienced unusually high temperatures, whilst densely populated areas in the northern hemisphere were gripped by bitter cold and damaging winter storms. Australia and Argentina suffered extreme heatwaves, whilst drought continued in Kenya and Somalia, and the South African city of Cape Town struggled with acute water shortages,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“Since the inaugural Statement on the State of the Global Climate, in 1993, scientific understanding of our complex climate system has progressed rapidly. This includes our ability to document the occurrence of extreme weather and climate events, the degree to which they can be attributed to human influences, and the correlation of climate change with epidemics and vector-borne diseases,” said Mr Taalas.
“In the past quarter of a century, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have risen from 360 parts per million to more than 400 ppm. They will remain above that level for generations to come, committing our planet to a warmer future, with more weather, climate and water extremes,” said Mr Taalas.
US$320 Billion Disaster Losses From Weather and Climate-Related Events
2017 was a particularly severe year for disasters with high economic impacts. Munich Re assessed total disaster losses from weather and climate-related events in 2017 at US$ 320 billion, the largest annual total on record (after adjustment for inflation).
Fuelled by warm sea surface temperatures, the North Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest ever for the United States and eradicated decades of developments gains in small islands in the Caribbean such as Dominica.
The National Centers for Environmental Information estimated total U.S. losses from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria at US$ 265 billion. The World Bank estimates Dominica’s total damages and losses from the hurricane at US$ 1.3 billion or 224% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).