Extreme Weather Events

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As the global average surface temperatures (especially ocean surface temperatures) become warmer, developing storms will contain more energy. According to IPCC (2013), tropical cyclones, such as Atlantic hurricanes and Pacific typhoons, have become more frequent and more intense— with stronger winds, heavier precipitation, and longer durations—since the late 1970s (Figure 17).

Figure 17: Time series of late summer tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature (blue) and the Power Dissipation Index (green), a measure of hurricane activity which depends on the frequency, duration, and intensity of hurricanes over a season. 1

In the Philippines in particular, the increase in the intensity of storm events over the past ten years has been devastating. In November 2013, over 6,000 people were killed during Super Typhoon Haiyan, a category-5 storm with the strongest wind speed at landfall ever recorded. In December 2012, Typhoon Pablo slammed into the southeastern part of Mindanao, Philippines and caused more than a thousand deaths and billions of dollars of property damage. A year earlier, northwestern Mindanao was hit by Typhoon Sending which likewise caused hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars of damage. Only a year prior to that, typhoons were very rare events in this area. Figure 18 demonstrates the increase in the frequency of catastrophic weather events worldwide between 1980 and 2011.

Figure 18 The increasing frequencies of worldwide catastrophic events as summarized by international insurance companies.1

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    2015 Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE – As at January 2015. Used with permission.