Monday, April 27, 2009

Extreme Weather Changes


The past year has been one of the most devastating ever in terms of natural
disasters, one of the world's biggest re-insurance companies has said.

Munich Re said the impact of the disasters, was greater than in 2007, in both human and economic terms.

Although there were fewer "loss-producing events" in 2008 than in the previous year, the impact of natural disasters was higher, said Munich Re in its annual assessment.

More than 220,000 people died, in events like cyclones, earthquakes and flooding, the most since 2004, the year of the Asian tsunami.
Meanwhile, overall global losses totaled about $200bn (£137bn), with uninsured losses totaling $45bn, about 50% more than in 2007.

This makes 2008, the third most expensive year on record, after 1995, when the Kobe earthquake struck Japan, and 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina in the US.
Torsten Jeworrek of Munich Re said, the pattern continued a long-term trend, already observed.

"Climate change has already started, and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes, and ensuing natural catastrophes," he said.

Asia, was the continent worst hit by natural disasters in 2008, Munich Re reported.

The year saw five major hurricanes in the North Atlantic.

Munich Re said the losses of $85bn made Sichuan, the second most expensive earthquake after Kobe.

Although Nargis and the Sichuan quake brought the biggest cost in terms of human lives, the economic losses were mostly uninsured.

The most expensive single event in 2008 was Hurricane Ike, which brought $30bn in losses. It was one of five major hurricanes in the North Atlantic over the year, which saw a total of 16 tropical storms.

In addition, roughly 1,700 tornadoes across the US, caused several billion dollars of damage; as did periods of low pressure weather activity in Europe.

Munich Re quoted World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) figures showing, that 2008 was the 10th warmest year, since reliable records began.

Meaning that the 10 warmest years on record, all occurred in the past 12 years.