Climate Extremes and Society



In October 2005, as the United States still was reeling from Hurricane Katrina in August and as the alphabet was too short to contain all of that year's named Atlantic tropical storms (Hurricane Wilma was forming near Jamaica), a timely workshop in Bermuda focused on climate extremes and society (see Eos, 87(3), 25, 17 January 2006). This edited volume, which corresponds roughly to the presentations given at that workshop, offers a fascinating look at the critically important intersection of acute climate stress and human vulnerabilities.

A changing climate affects humans and other living things not through the variable that most robustly demonstrates the role of rising greenhouse gases—globally averaged temperature—but through local changes, especially changes in extremes. The first part of this book, “Defining and modeling the nature of weather and climate extremes,” focuses on natural science. The second part, “Impacts of weather and climate extremes,” focuses on societal impacts and responses, emphasizing an insurance industry perspective because a primary sponsor of the workshop was the Risk Prediction Initiative, whose aim is to “support scientific research on topics of interest to its sponsors” (p. 320).