Image-of-the-Week: Forecast: Weird

| Fri Nov. 18, 2011 2:52 PM PST

Credit: Scotto Bear via Wikimedia Commons.Credit: Scotto Bear via Wikimedia Commons.If the weather's seemed bizarre lately, the future's likely to get really strange. This according to the latest IPCC summary report (pdf), released today, which predicts all kinds of additional weather weirdness in the years ahead: heavier rains, more extreme high temperatures, fewer low temperature extremes, longer-lasting heat waves, stronger hurricanes and typhoons, intensifying droughts, and extreme sea levels. The report summarizes trends in disaster costs in recent decades as: way more expensive in dollars for the developed world; way more expensive in lost lives in the developing world.

Today's report reflects more accurately the true level of scientific uncertainty ahead—more hurricanes or just stronger hurricanes? more rain plus more floods?—and notes that many ares of the globe are still data impoverished. Nature News points out the gap between today's release of the summary and the release of the full report due in February—it's: '"unfortunate," says Stefan Rahmstorf, an ocean and climate researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. "Governments have in the past considerably weakened the language of IPCC summaries for policymakers... As long as the full report is not available it is hard to say if, and to what extent, this may have happened again."'

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