The weather we will get, the climate we can expect: a few instructions for use
Weather-ready, climate-smart is the theme of the 2018 edition of the International Meteorological Day, an important and shared moment to discuss one of the main challenges of our times.
The event gathered the Italian scientific community, which is in the forefront in the investigation of atmospheric phenomena, at Sapienza University of Rome, in a large meeting open to the general public and young people who are ready to choose their university programmes.
The scenario for the near future is that of a world marked by an increasing population, facing an increasing number of intense meteorological events such as cyclonic storms, heavy rainfalls, heatwaves, floods. We must get used to this greater incidence of extreme weather events due to ongoing climate change.
Data already show a significant increase – over the last 20 years – in severe floods in Europe. With regard to Italy, what is striking is the number of victims of landslides and floods over the period 1967 to 2016, with approximately 36 deaths per year on average. Overall, over the last 50 years over 1,900 people were injured and over 317,000 evacuated or left homeless due to events related to hydrogeological instability, according to the latest Report issued by the Research Institute for Geo-Hydrogeological Protection-IRPI of the National Research Council.
Is it possible to know in advance where and when extreme weather events will happen? And above all, can we protect ourselves from the related risks?
To anticipate the exact localization, in time and space, of intense events is extremely difficult, said Carlo Cacciamani, a physicist from the Department of the National Civil Protection, because the elements at stake are several and “chaotic”. The most accurate forecast models, especially in the medium term, are probabilistic: they do not suggest with certainty, they only forecast scenarios.
However, the good news is that a correct and shared management of this data along with a prompt communication can effectively warn about any risks, by suggesting prudent behaviours with regard to the possible scenarios.
Besides the ongoing effects that are already involving us, climate change seems to deeply affect the balance of the planet, by altering soils, agriculture, ecosystems. Just think about some phenomena that have been under the lens of scientists for some time now, including ice melting and rise of the sea level, ocean acidification, desertification.
The main causes of the ongoing planet heating at least after World World II also include the so-called anthropogenic factors, i.e. factors related to human activities, such as pollution generated by fossil fuels and deforestation. This was highlighted by Antonello Pasini, National Research council, author – together with his research team – of a recent study published in Scientific Reports, which has shown the influence of human activities on climate, by means of artificial intelligence.
Human causes, human effects, because the increase in temperature, by altering the geography of territories and the livability of large areas, can can contribute to alter the social, economic and political stability. This is already happening, according to Antonello Pasini, who shows, in his recent book Effetto serra effetto guerra, co-authored with diplomate Grammenos Mastrojeni, that recent humanitarian crises, the tragic effects of which we know well – ranging from the slaughters of citizens to mass migrations of refugees towards Europe, to the increase in terrorism – has something to do also with climate change.
Is therefore the future of our planet inescapably marked? Not really, reassure us scientists, because it is possible and necessary to face this change better. However, to do so, we must be willing to do it, not only smart.