Unnikrishnan, A.S.; Tangang, Fredolin; Durrheim, Raymond J.; Woodworth, Philip L. ORCID: 2022 Foreword. In: Extreme Natural Events - Sustainable Solutions for Developing Countries. Springer.

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Two recent events have underlined the importance of extreme natural events to our planet’s populations. The first event was the publication in 2021 of The Physical Science Basis by Working Group I (WG1) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Two further reports concerned with Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability and Mitigation of Climate Change will be published by Working Groups II and III, respectively in 2022, thereby completing the overall IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Reports (AR6). These reports provide irrefutable evidence for anthropogenic climate change during the past century and show that extreme events connected with climate change are now occurring more frequently than previously, with the largest events often impacting on developing countries. The reports provide projections of changes in many climate parameters towards 2100 and beyond, and thereby changes in the occurrence of extreme events, from which one concludes that, without mitigation and adaptation measures being taken, impacts on developing countries will be even more severe. The second event was the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow during October–November 2021. Discussions at that conference underlined the need for urgency in tackling climate change, so that its impacts might be constrained as far as possible. It also demonstrated how difficult and costly that effective action will be. For example, within my own field of sea-level science, the AR6 WG1 suggested that global average sea level could rise by 0.28–0.55 m by 2100 (relative to 1995– 2014), assuming a very low greenhouse gas emission scenario, or 0.63–1.01 m, assuming a very high emission scenario. Such a rise in sea level, combined with possible changes in the frequency and intensity of storms and their associated storm surges, will require major expenditure in raising coastal defences, with sometimes consequent undesirable modifications to coastal environments. Moreover, in some cases, such as small island states, sea-level rise will represent a major threat to the people. The AR6 and COP26 have made clear that climate change will impact every country in the world in different ways. In particular, rising temperatures and sea levels and modifications to rainfall patterns will have major impacts on natural environments and agriculture and have many consequences for the built environment and infrastructure. A large number of these topics are discussed in this volume. The editors are to be congratulated on assembling an excellent set of chapters which together underline the importance of the above topics. The first chapters in the volume are concerned with the provision of information on, and systems for addressing, extreme climate events. There then follow two sets of chapters dealing with extreme rainfall and thunderstorm events, which often lead to river flooding, and extreme wave and sea-level events, which can lead to coastal flooding. Further chapters discuss the extreme events associated with earthquakes and landslides, a reminder that extreme natural events are not confined to those associated with climate change. For example, recent years have demonstrated the threat posed to coastal populations by undersea earthquakes and tsunamis. Some of the chapters in the book discuss impacts of climate change on agriculture and integrated methods to reduce the impacts of disastrous events. The chapters in this volume show that although the importance of individual types of extreme event varies between countries, they all require addressing worldwide. The chapters also demonstrate that major investment is required in infrastructure, including regional and global monitoring networks for a range of climate parameters. In addition, development is needed in new analysis and modelling techniques for the forecasting of extreme events (e.g. downscaling of global and regional climate projections to the more practically useful short spatial scales). International collaboration will be essential in network development and the use of the resulting data sets. The ultimate aim must be to provide the best possible information and advice to decision makers and the public, so that systems can be constructed by which the impacts of extreme events might be mitigated. Therefore, it is gratifying that the chapters in this volume are written by authors from so many developing countries. I can recommend the volume as an important contribution to research into the extreme events which have such scientific and practical importance for us all.

Item Type: Publication - Book Section
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Date made live: 28 Nov 2022 14:38 +0 (UTC)

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