On August 16-17, 2012, the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) will host a workshop to discuss the results of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment "Special Report for Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)" for South and Central America. The event will be held in So Paulo and is organized in partnership with the IPCC, the UKs Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).
Entitled "Managing the Risks of Climate Extremes and Disasters in Central and South America What can we learn from the IPCC Special Report on Extremes SREX?", the workshop aims to disseminate scientific information on the possible impact of the risks of extreme climate events such as heat waves, record high temperatures and heavy rain precipitation and other related disasters, as well as the options for managing these impacts, specifically in South and Central America.
Jointly sponsored by Norways Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Climate and Pollution Agency, CDKN and the IPCC, the workshop is geared toward opinion-makers, business leaders, academics, researchers and civic organizations whose policies or programs may be affected by climate extremes. The meeting will cover topics such as exposure and vulnerability in the context of the reports observations on: climate extremes; impacts and losses; and risk management options to improve current and future practices.
Comprising nine chapters and four annexes, the IPCC Special Report was prepared over two years by 220 authors from 62 countries, involving both Working Groups I and II of the IPCC. A total of 18,784 outside expert and government review comments were received in the three rounds of formal review.
The So Paulo event forms one of a series of outreach events taking place around the world designed to provide information about the possible impacts of climate extremes and disasters by region and options for managing the potential risks arising from them, as assessed in the IPCC.
The event will include a press conference, presentation of the Special Report by its authors, special sessions to discuss national and regional policy and a series of mini-workshops, focused on promoting dialogue and sharing the implications of the Special Report for interested parties and policy makers at local, regional and national level.
Social and environmental factors
According to information released by the IPCC, the planets climate changes have been responsible for patterns of extreme events in several parts of the world. The consequences of these events can be reduced because social vulnerabilities and risk exposure also contribute to the impacts of events; not all climate events lead to disasters.
SREX is the result of a multidisciplinary effort among scientists that study the physical aspects of climate change, those with experience in impacts, adaptations and vulnerability as well as experts in risk management for disasters. The data and information contained in the report will, therefore, allow policy makers to deepen discussions on the issue based on the results of the IPCC report and material on which the report bases its assessments. The report identifies the lessons learned from vast experience in risk management for disasters and the growing focus on the adaptation to climate changes.
The report highlights the prolonged period of high temperatures and heat waves in several regions of the world. It indicates the probable increased frequency of intense precipitation events or the increased proportion of intense rain totals in many areas, especially in high latitudes and tropical regions, and for harsher winters in the middle latitudes in the North of the planet. It also highlights the increased duration and intensity of drought in some regions of the world, including the South of Europe and the Mediterranean, Central Europe, Central America and Mexico, in addition to Southern Africa and some areas of South America.
Scientific experts drafted the 592-page document based on the latest scientific and technical information, which then underwent two further rounds of review by other experts and governments. "There are many options currently available that could improve preparation for an efficient response to extreme climate events and catastrophes, and increasing the recovery from them," says Vicente Barros, co-chair of the Working Group II.
Jose Marengo of the INPEs Earth System Science Center (CCST), one of the authors of the IPCC SREX report and one of the organizers of the event, highlights the importance of the SREX for Central and South America in the actions governments will take to address natural disasters associated with intense rain or drought. "The observed increase in rainfall in Southeast South America shows the major impact of natural and human systems in urban and rural areas, including vulnerable areas of So Paulo city, which are affected by intense rain and flooding every year." This trend could worsen in the future if measures are not taken for adaptation, because projections indicate at trend toward increasing rain extremes in densely populated regions such as So Paulo State, among others.