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Temperature Extremes Poised to Rise This Century, UN Says

Global daily temperature extremes are “virtually certain” to rise this century, a panel of about 200 United Nations scientists said in a study of weather-related natural disasters.

Heavy downpours and heat waves may become more frequent, according to the 29-page document released today by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It’s “likely” that Europe will see longer and more intense heat waves and that average wind speeds of tropical storms will increase, the report said.

“There is high confidence that both maximum and minimum daily temperatures have increased on a global scale due to the increase of greenhouse gases,” Qin Dahe, co-chair of one of the working groups on the report, said in a statement. “It is virtually certain that on a global scale hot days become even hotter and occur more often.”

The report is aimed at guiding debate at annual climate talks, which take place this year in Durban, South Africa, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9. Delegates from more than 190 nations will discuss ways to curb climate change and fund adaptation measures after average temperatures last year were tied with 2005 as the warmest on record.

‘Act Quickly’

“Weather extremes are significantly on the rise all over the world,” Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe, a meteorologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said by phone. “Politicians should act quickly as the implications of climate change will be felt for decades to come.”

Downpours and storm surges may make parts of the planet “increasingly marginal” for inhabitants, and residents may have to leave some low-lying atolls, the report said.

Suggested measures include minimizing risks such as water demand management and conservation agriculture to counter droughts in West Africa, conserving Mangrove trees to fend off rising sea levels in the Pacific, and improving building standards to protect citizens in the U.S. and the Carribean from stronger hurricanes.

While developed economies bore the brunt of economic losses from extreme weather and climate events, over 95 percent of deaths from natural disasters between 1970 and 2008 occurred in developing countries, the report said.

The IPCC report reflects an “urgent need to hedge against the growing risk of devastating climate events in many parts of the world,” Kevin Parker, global head of Deutsche Bank AG’s asset management arm, said in an e-mailed statement.

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