Received: 17 November 2018 / Accepted: 07 January 2020/ Published online: 23 January 2020
The continuous increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the past four decades is positively and significantly associated with the notable global increase in the frequency of intense flood and storm events.
The number of climate disasters could double in less than 21 years, and thus severely damage the environment, socioeconomic progress, and welfare of millions of people worldwide.
The paper’s findings make a strong and urgent case for implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
This research explains the factors that contribute to the global increase in the frequency of intense hydrometeorological disasters, particularly those related to floods and storms. It describes how the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) accumulation and its associated changes in climatic patterns contribute to the increased frequency of these intense events. The novelty of this study lies in how climate effects are examined within a socioeconomic framework that includes factors that turn natural hazards into intense disasters. These factors include people’s increasing exposure and their vulnerability to these hazards.
This study uses climate data from 155 countries, with a period spanning 46 years (1970–2016). It adopts a statistical and econometric approach, instead of climate models, to assess the factors that have contributed to the increase in the frequency of intense flood and storm events. The findings show that in addition to socioeconomic factors, the continuous increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration during the past four decades is significantly correlated with the increase in the number of extreme flood and storm events. Moreover, the results show that global climate conditions significantly affect the frequency of these disasters.
The estimates in this study further suggest that if current trends in environmental degradation and CO2 accumulation remain unchecked, then the frequency of intense hydrometeorological disasters would increase. Our results also highlight the link between climate change and natural hazards, and support the broader pathways between climate hazards and socioeconomic variables traced by Mora et al. (2018). This scenario is a ground for the immediate implementation of adaptation measures and for taking strong mitigation measures to reverse runaway climate change.