In this blog, Panmao Zhai, a research professor at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences and Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, will discuss the situation of extreme weather events across the globe and recent scientific discoveries to understand their attributions.
Extreme weather and climate events are highly disastrous and pose a serious threat to socio-economic development and human safety. In the context of global warming, extreme events have exhibited a novel trend of widespread, frequent, intense, and concurrent occurrence in recent decades. The statistical results show that the world population affected by extreme events has increased by 234% since the 21st century compared to the previous 20 years. For example, in 2018, most of Europe, North America, and the mid-high latitudes in East Asia simultaneously experienced unprecedented heat and drought events, and resulted in significant impacts and losses. In the summer of 2022, a record-breaking heatwave hit the Northern Hemisphere again. Some European countries, such as Spain and France, have suffered consecutive days of heatwaves above 40°C, breaking the 2018 record. The intensity of heat events in many regions of China has also broken historical records, caused severe drought in many provinces in the Yangtze River basin, and even induced forest wildfires in Chongqing and other areas.
More and more scientific evidence indicates that climate warming caused by human activities can and has caused frequent and intensified extreme weather and climate events. According to the latest developments, extreme event attribution has been listed by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) as one of the core scientific issues with great challenges, and has been selected as the core topic of the WCRP Lighthouse Activities. IPCC AR6 indicates that the occurrence probability of compound extreme events (concurrent or sequential), is increasing and requires high attention.
IPCC AR6 also points out that global warming is projected to further enhance in the near term. The world is expected to experience more compound extreme events similar to those in 2022. Once such extreme events occur, they will challenge the limits of adaptation, and result in unpredictable impacts and losses.
In the last decade, research on extreme event attribution has rapidly advanced, with continuous improvement in event attribution methods and increasing cases. The general public and government are also paying more attention to extreme weather and climate events under climate warming. Journal of Meteorological Research is publishing a special collection titled "Detection, Attribution, and Projection of Regional Extreme Weather and Climate Events in China", which aims to reflect the latest progress in research on extreme weather and climate events in China, and is expected to provide scientific support for regional climate change risk management and to meet the cognitive needs of the public, government, and scholars of related research fields.
Panmao Zhai is a research professor and Ph.D. supervisor at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences and Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I. He has more than 30 years working experience in climate change studies. He has authored and co-authored more than 200 papers. He has developed the Global Climate Monitoring and Diagnostic System, and established the ENSO Monitoring and Prediction System in China. Such contributions have effectively facilitated the China National Climate Centre’s operational activities and services. Currently, as a chief scientist, he is leading a group of meteorologists working on the detection, attribution and projection of regional extreme weather and climate events.