Climate change: regional impact

March 31st, 2014 in Earth / Environment

This is how climate change may affect the world's regions this century, as forecast in a major report published by UN scientists Monday.

The report is part of the fifth overview on global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1988.

The document identifies each region's key challenges; for addressing them; and level of risk from warming of either 2 C (3.6 F) or 4 C (7.2 F) by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. This risk is calculated on the basis of present policies for adapting to climate change.

AFRICA

Challenge: Water stress

Risk: High at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Smarter use of water resources

Challenge: Food shortages

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Stress-tolerant crops, help for small farmers

Challenge: Mosquito- and water-borne diseases

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Option: Outbreak early-warning systems, improved sanitation

EUROPE

Challenge: Flooding in river basis and on coasts

Risk: Medium at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Improve flood protection

Challenge: Water stress in dry regions

Risk: High at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Reduce water waste, including through irrigation

Challenge: Heatwaves and air pollution affecting health

Risk: High at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Reduce emissions to improve air quality and adapt homes and workplaces for heatwaves.

ASIA

Challenge: Flood damage to homes and infrastructure

Risk: High at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: More resilient buildings and "selective relocation"

Challenge: Deaths from extreme heat

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Strengthen health systems, improve city planning to reduce urban heat buildup

Challenge: Malnutrition caused by drought

Risk: Medium at 2 C, high at 4 C

Options: Beef up vigilance on food supplies, improve disaster preparedness

AUSTRALASIA

Challenge: Damage to coral reefs and, in Australia, animal and plant species loss

Risk: High at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Reduce pressures on ecosystems from pollution, tourism and introduced species

Challenge: Flooding, and coastal infrastructure lost to rising seas

Risk: Medium at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Smarter land use to reduce exposure to floods and .

NORTH AMERICA

Challenge: Wildfires for ecosystems and homes

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Improve fire prevention measures

Challenge: Deaths from heatwaves

Risk: High at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Encourage residential air conditioning, build cooling centres for the vulnerable

Challenge: Property and infrastructure damage from extreme rainstorms

Risk: High at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Install drainage systems that allow water runoff to recharge groundwater resources, easing flood risk

CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA

Challenge: Water stress in semi-arid areas that depend on glaciers for water supply

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Improve water supply and land use

Challenge: Flooding in urban areas from extreme rainfall

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Improve urban flood management, early-warning systems and weather alerts

Challenge: Decreased food production and food quality

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Develop drought-resistant crop strains

POLAR REGIONS

Challenge: Risk to ecosystems from changes to permafrost, snow and ice

Risk: High at 2 C , very high at 4C

Options: Enhanced monitoring of risk, hunt different species if possible

Challenge: Food insecurity and lack of reliable and safe drinking water

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Improve monitoring systems, shift resources, settle elsewhere

Challenge: Impact on Arctic communities if happens very fast

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Improve communications, education and training, encourage co-management of ecosystem

SMALL ISLANDS

Challenge: Loss of homes, farmland, infrastructure and livelihoods from rising seas and storms

Risk: High at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Boost coastal buffers and improve management of water and soil resources

Challenge: Loss of low-lying land in coastal areas from a combination of rising seas and storm surges

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Not constructing new buildings in areas at risk

OCEANS

Challenge: Decline in fish catches at low latitudes

Risk: Medium at 2 C, high at 4 C

Options: Flexible management reactive to stock variability, expanding aquaculture

Challenge: Biodiversity loss from heat-damaged

Risk: Very high at 2 C and 4 C

Options: Reduce other human-induced stresses like pollution, tourism and fishing

Challenge: Damage to coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and sea grass from soil runoff from heavy rain and coastal erosion

Risk: High at 2 C, very high at 4 C

Options: Reduce soil runoff caused by deforestation

SOURCE: "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability " (Summary for Policymakers)

© 2014 AFP

"Climate change: regional impact." March 31st, 2014. http://phys.org/news/2014-03-climate-regional-impact.html