"Climate Extremes: Trends, Physical Causes, and Societal Impacts"
Climate and weather extremes cause considerable humanitarian and socio-economic impacts across the globe. Global economic losses from extreme events in recent years are estimated to come close to $200 billion dollars annually. The impacts of extremes depend upon the exposure and vulnerability of the affected natural and human systems. Minimizing future risks of disasters to these systems requires an accurate quantification of how and why extreme events have changed over the historical record, and an understanding of the vulnerability of different societal systems.
My talk will focus on explaining changes in climate extremes in two main regions – North America and South Asia. I will demonstrate that the characteristics of several daily-scale extreme events in these regions have changed significantly over the historical record. I will show that these changes in extremes are associated with changes in specific environmental “ingredients” such as moisture availability and associated atmospheric circulations. Next, I will introduce a new framework to investigate the role of natural and anthropogenic climate forcings on these identified regional trends as well as the occurrence of single extreme events. Finally, I will present work that assesses the impacts of such daily-scale extremes on crop yields and farmer decision-making, targeted at understanding the climate vulnerability of the Indian agricultural sector. Together, the research I present aims to build an integrated framework for improving our understanding of the changing physical climate risks to different societal sectors. [ background reading: 1 2 3 ]