Drought, Fire, and Flood: Monitoring and Modeling More Frequent Catastrophes
Dr. Chris Funk of the USGS and UC Santa Barbara explores the relationship between climate change, catastrophic events, and human response. Between 2015 and 2018 an unprecedented series of droughts, floods, fires, heat waves and hurricanes took the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people, resulting in over $700 billion dollars in damages, costs similar in magnitude to a large scale war. The frequency and costs of weather and climate related catastrophes are increasing dramatically, as a growing population and a warmer climate place more people in harm’s way. Warming of the atmosphere can both increase the intensity of extreme precipitation and cyclones, while also increasing the impact of droughts and the extent of wildfires. Warming of the oceans can lead to coral bleaching and more intense wet or dry cycles. Against this back- drop of need, however, improved monitoring systems and models can help us improve our understanding of our physical, social and economic systems and help us manage risk and work towards a more sustainable future.