More Than Six Billion People to be Increasingly Exposed to Extremes under Global Warming


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 6th Assessment Report has reported that changes in many climate extremes have increased with global warming. The Paris Agreement considered two warming levels in the 21st Century compared to preindustrial times: 1.5°C as the ideal objective, and 2.0°C as the upper boundary.

Climate change and human communities. (Image by QIN Peihua)

Climate-related risks result from changes in climate extremes, as well as changes in global population size and spatial population distribution. Recently, Dr. QIN Peihua from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP), Chinese Academy of Sciences and his collaborators investigated population exposure to climate extremes with global climate models (Fig. 1) in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6.
Fig. 1 Time series of global surface air temperature and total population, as well as the year when 1.5°C and 2.0°C warming occur. (Image by IAP)

"Global population exposure to climate extreme shows moderate increases under global warming and intensified increases with a higher warming level, with the southern Asia and Central Africa regions mainly contributing to these increases." Said QIN. Due to a population decrease when moving from 1.5°C to 2.0°C warming over eastern Asia, population exposure to extremes is found to decrease slightly.
Fig. 2 Compound indices of increases in population exposure to extremes under different global warming level. (Image by IAP)
According to their study, total population of 1569-2358 million will be increasingly exposed to wet (consecutive wet days), dry (consecutive dry days), heat (summer days) and cold (frost days) extremes at 1.5°C warming, 2.0°C warming and from 1.5 to 2.0°C warming. Additionally, more than two-thirds of total world population might encounter more exposure to all four extremes but the cold extreme during the above periods (Fig. 2).
"Obviously, we should do more to face possible climate risks under global warming," said QIN.
This work has been published in Atmospheric Research.
Qin, P. H. (2022) More than six billion people encountering more exposure to extremes with 1.5°C and 2.0°C warming. Atmos. Res. Accepted. .
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