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Tuesday 17 August 2010
Author: Russell Group

The head of Munich Re GeoRisk research operations has said there is growing evidence that climate change is now affected the world’s weather patterns.

Speaking to the media Prof. Peter Höppe, Munich Re’s Head of GeoRiskResearch/Corporate Climate Centre, said while a single major event could not be viewed as evidence of global climate change the evidence was now mounting that the world’s weather patterns were now changing.

In an interview with German television channel ZDF Prof Höppe said: “Our database clearly indicates a sharp rise in the number of weather-related natural catastrophes per year, in terms of overall and insured losses. For instance, there has been a threefold increase in floods since 1980. There has also been a rise in the number of windstorm losses, Atlantic hurricanes being particularly destructive.”

“In Germany, extreme precipitation resulting in floods is becoming increasingly common. This affects not only people living on rivers: there are more and more cases of heavy rain and flash floods. Anyone may be affected.”

“Both the hundred-year flood in 2002 and the current flooding on the RiverNeisse were caused by what are referred to as Vb weather conditions, that is to say, a low-pressure system from the Mediterranean region which passes to the east of the Alps and then heads south again. This produces extreme precipitation on the northern slopes of the Alps and low mountain ranges. This situation has occurred much more often in recent years – and explains a substantial proportion of the many floods in Poland, the Czech Republic, eastern Germany and parts of the Alpine Foreland.”

When asked if there was now a view that climate change was occurring ProfHöppe said the evidence was pointing to changes in the world’s weather patterns.

“Climate change cannot be identified from individual events but our figures, backed by verifiable changes in meteorological data, indicate a trend towards an increase in extreme weather events that can only be fully explained by climate change,” he replied. “The current state of knowledge leaves no doubt about the existence of anthropogenic climate change. Whether the current weather extremes are caused or intensified by climate change is uncertain, but there is considerable evidence indicating that climate change is involved at least to some extent.”