In our recent blog post on Loss and Damage, we explored the climate change impacts caused by slow-onset events (such as sea-level rise) and extreme weather events. These different types of events resulting in losses and damages are also implicit in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ‘Reasons For Concern’ (RFCs). The latest assessment (Working Group II (WG2) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)) finds that for a given level of warming, these climate-related risks are higher than previously assessed.
how sea level rise is monitored and the actions that can be taken in response to changing sea levels. Earlier this week, we also explored how climate attribution science compares modelled worlds with and without human greenhouse gas emissions or other human or natural drivers of climate change to quantify the influence of human-caused climate change on extreme weather and climate events.
Is climate attribution enough?
Dr Richard Jones OBE is a Science Fellow at the Met Office. He explained that “the extent of losses and damages, both economic and non-economic, during an extreme event will be determined by the scale of the hazard (meteorological and hydrological), together with the exposure and vulnerability of the people, communities, infrastructure or ecosystems impacted. Currently, much attribution science is focused on the hazard. However, in recent years confidence has increased that detected impacts on ecosystems and human systems globally are attributable to climate change, including the impact of extreme events (IPCC WGII AR6).”
Studies have analysed loss of life from individual cold-and heat-related events1 and monetary losses from flooding2. But attributing a wide range of quantifiable and more qualitative impacts poses challenges, such as how to incorporate vulnerability or assess the ‘value’ of cultural impacts. Addressing this is an active area of research3.
Extreme event impact attribution itself is a growing area of research and there is a diversity of views among experts on the potential role extreme event attribution has to play in Loss and Damage decision-making4. Key evidence gaps relate to the lack of climate impact monitoring and data in some regions.
With regards to the exposure and vulnerability of communities to an extreme event, an added layer of complexity arises when considering climate change adaptation and the impact this had or could have had on the impact of an event. We discussed this challenge last year in a blog post on adaptation monitoring, and earlier this year the UK’s Climate Change Committee published their Adaptation Monitoring Framework. However, this framework acknowledges the challenges that still remain such as the interdependencies between sectors and other societal goals, and the fact that adaptation needs are very location and context specific.
Met Office expertise
As a global leader in weather and climate science and their many applications, the Met Office expertise spans observations and monitoring, developing and applying weather and climate information, and cutting-edge science including climate change attribution. Not only does this allow us to add our research to the growing evidence-base in reports such as those produced by the IPCC, but also places us in a position to support society directly in understanding the impacts of climate change and how these can be addressed.
We work with UK Government departments, industry and business, hydro-met and climate organisations in other nations and their stakeholders to share our science and expertise and to develop climate services which can help inform adaptation and increase resilience in the UK and beyond.
Richard concluded: “The discussion around Loss and Damage is a complex one, but climate science can play a part in increasing understanding and providing evidence to inform decision-making. Organisations such as the Met Office continue to develop climate science and can help to integrate this with research and knowledge from other specialisms such as those within the social sciences.”