Storms, floods and dry, so-called extreme events, are getting increasingly more common as a result of climate change. According to the United Nations (UN), these events resulted in about 15.000 deaths and a loss of around US$ 170 billion (R$ 837 billion, at the current price) in 2020 alone.

Extreme weather conditions mean rare weather events where and when they happen, such as a heat wave in Siberia. In addition, it can mean weather conditions that have a strong impact on everyday life, such as severe storms and prolonged droughts.

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Experts argue that extreme weather events vary according to the type of event being talked about. “Some types of weather events are becoming more extreme, like heat waves or heavy precipitation,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, climate science expert at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.

some rarer

Snow covered trees
Blizzards tend to get rarer. Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In contrast, other events have become rarer and less extreme, such as prolonged cold snaps and blizzards, while others are still in the middle, with areas where droughts become more extreme and others less so.

Some types of extreme weather have already become more severe due to climate change man-made. Other types of extreme events are expected to become more severe as the Earth's climate warms. However, in some events, such as hurricanes, the evidence is more nuanced.

Scientists expect more intense, larger, and longer-lasting storms in the future, but fewer in number. In addition, these larger hurricanes can also produce a greater amount of chuvas.

Drier and more rain

drought environment
Heat has the ability to generate more droughts while causing more rain. Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Interestingly, warmer climates can cause extreme rainfall while triggering droughts. This is because extreme heat increases evaporation, causing soils and vegetation to dry faster when it is drier, which creates an association between heat waves and droughts.

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“As temperatures rise, the amount of water vapor in the air, under humid conditions, increases,” explains Walter Robinson, an expert in climate science at North Carolina State University.

“As atmospheric water vapor converts to rain in the clouds as the climate warms, we expect the rains to become heavier. There is strong observational evidence that this is happening,” adds Robinson.

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