Future changes in climate extreme damages in Australia

Monday, 3 December 2018 - 11:00am to 12:00pm

Weather and climate extremes pose an immediate threat to societies. In spite of their diverse characteristics, they share the potential to cause death, destruction, displacement, persistent poverty, and long-term reductions in economic growth.

According to Munich Re, these extremes have caused direct damages of about USD 55 billion in Australia between 1980 and 2016, of which about 40% were insured. The largest contributors to this sum are river floods (28%), droughts (18%), and tropical cyclones (12%). The consequences of weather and climate extremes are expected to worsen under unabated global warming. Stronger precipitation extremes will increase the number of flood events, higher sea surface temperatures will cause stronger and more frequent tropical cyclones of highest category, heat extremes and prolonged drought conditions will result in increased crop losses and greater wildfire risk. Consequently, the risk of higher economic losses will rise accordingly.

This seminar will discuss how the global and Australian risk landscape for various climate hazards will change under different levels of warming and socio-economic development. These results are based on newly-released synchronized climate impact model simulations from the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP) that allows for a temporally and spatially explicit assessment of future weather-related threats across different climate extremes. In particular, we quantify how the area affected and the exposed population and assets will increase for tropical cyclones, river floods, droughts, and wildfires as a function of global mean temperature. Moreover, using newly derived region- and hazard-specific damage functions we explore future asset losses for tropical cyclones and river floods with high spatial detail. This assessment provides valuable input for risk takers and governmental bodies that aim to limit future climate risks. It also identifies hot-spot regions where major changes in risk will occur and the need for adaptation is greatest.

This event is organised in collaboration with the Energy Transition Hub and National Australia Bank.

Event Location: 
Australian-German Climate and Energy College
Level 1, 187 Grattan Street, University of Melbourne
Parkville, VIC 3010
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Tobias Geiger studied Physics, Mathematics, and Meteorology in Freiburg (Germany), Nottingham (UK), Kasan (Russia), and Minsk (Belarus). He holds a Master degree in Physics and a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Freiburg, Germany. In 2014 he joined the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Potsdam, Germany as a scientific researcher in the department of Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities. He specializes in the quantification of direct and indirect economic impacts of meteorological extreme events and their projection under the coeval development under future climate change and socio-economic evolution. He has published several articles in high impact scientific journals, recently co-authored a report by the Asian Development Bank on future climate risks in the Asian Pacific Region, and regularly provides expert contributions for media outlets. His research interests further include impacts of climate change on public health and migration, economic growth modeling, and econometric impact assessment. He is part of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (www.isimip.org) for which he organizes the tropical cyclone sector.