China Carbon Credit Platform

Looking back at 2023: New characteristics of extreme weather and climate events are emerging around the world

Release Time1 month ago

On April 17, the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, together with the British Meteorological Office, the Sorbonne University of France, the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology in Germany, the Argentine Institute of Glaciology and Environmental Sciences, and the Shanghai Typhoon Research Institute of the China Meteorological Administration, published an article in the News & Views column of "Advances in Atmospheric Science" on April 17, summarizing and reviewing the world's major extreme events in 2023, including their basic facts. impacts and key physical processes, and further understanding of the role of climate internal variability and anthropogenic climate change through a complete lens of past to future change.

"These increasingly increasing and intensifying extreme weather and climate events are listed as the top global risks for the next decade in the World Economic Forum's latest Global Risks Report. In order to deal with extreme climate change more effectively, it is necessary to pay attention not only to its intensifying trend, but also to pay attention to the emerging new characteristics of extreme events, which pose new challenges to the study of extreme events. Zhang Wenxia, the first author of the article and an associate researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, introduced the significance of this research result to reporters.

2023 is the hottest year since 1850, with the observed global average temperature being 1.45°C ± 0.12°C warmer than pre-industrial (1850-1900). Along with record-breaking temperatures, the world experienced frequent extreme weather and climate events this year, including heat waves, extreme precipitation, sudden droughts and floods, wildfires, sandstorms, etc.

The picture shows a review of major extreme weather and climate events around the world in 2023

The article focuses on the new features that are emerging from these extreme events. Specifically, extreme heat events occurred earlier, with many regions, including southwestern Europe, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Brazil, etc., experiencing extreme heat (even reaching more than 40°C) in the spring of 2023. In addition, the number of simultaneous heat events in multiple places (e.g., the simultaneous heat wave in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere in July 2023) is increasing, and such spatial compounding heatwaves may occur in multiple food-producing regions at the same time, posing a significant threat to global food security.

For extreme precipitation, the intensity of extreme precipitation is greatly exacerbated by the intense water vapor transport brought by severe cyclones. For example, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei rainstorms in North China in July 2023 and the Libyan floods in September 2023, the former was affected by Super Typhoon Doksuri and Kanu, and the latter was affected by Hurricane Daniel in the Mediterranean, both of which broke historical records. For droughts, multi-year droughts persist in some areas (e.g., central South America), while others (e.g., California and the Horn of Africa) have experienced a transition from multi-year droughts to floods. In addition, the outbreak of widespread wildfires (such as the Hawaiian wildfires in August 2023 and spring-to-autumn wildfires in Canada) and sandstorms (such as the Mongolian sandstorm in April 2023) have increased the interaction between extreme events and ecosystems.

"One of the new features of extreme events is the seasonal variation of extreme events, and now they have the potential to occur in seasons that are unlikely to be possible. Robin Clark, second author of the article and senior researcher at the Met Office's Hadley Centre, said.

On the other hand, the compound characteristics of extreme events, including the rapid turn of drought and flood, also need attention, which often have a greater impact than the occurrence of extreme events alone. In addition, the interaction between extreme weather and ecosystems is increasing through events such as large-scale wildfires in warm and dry climates, and the carbon emissions generated by wildfires and their damage to natural carbon sinks are issues that cannot be ignored in achieving the global carbon neutrality goal. These problems have posed new challenges to the study of extreme events.

In addition to raising scientific awareness, effective responses to extreme events require early warning. This is also the ambitious goal of the United Nations Early Warnings for All, launched in 2022, to achieve that by the end of 2027, all people around the world will have access to the protection of early weather warning systems to cope with increasingly extreme weather and climate change.

However, in many underdeveloped regions, it is still very difficult to achieve this goal. "This will require the joint efforts of the international community, in particular to strengthen collaboration in the Global North and the Global South. For example, the Earth Virtualization Engines (EVE) initiative initiated by the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany provides a good new paradigm for international cooperation, which has been responded to by many countries and different industries. Through a combination of numerical simulation, high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, and user needs, the goal is to provide all users around the world with more effective climate projection information at the kilometer scale to better cope with extreme climate change. Dr. Li Chao, co-author of the paper and the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, said.

It is reported that the paper was co-funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (42275038), the Climate Change Project (QBZ202306) of the China Meteorological Administration, and the Sino-British Climate Science Support Services Partnership China Project (CSSP-China).