A new study from Munich Re shows that North America has been most affected by weather-related extreme events in recent decades – the continent being exposed to every type of hazardous weather peril, partly because there is no mountain range running east to west to separate hot from cold air.
According to the research, nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America, with the number of weather-related loss events increasing almost five-fold over the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of four in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, two in Europe and 1.5 in South America.
Anthropogenic climate change is thought to contribute to the trend and among other risk insights, the study provides new evidence for the emerging impact of climate change.
For thunderstorm-related losses the analysis reveals increasing volatility and a significant long-term upward trend in the normalised figures over the last 40 years.
Detailed analysis of the time series also indicates that the observed changes closely match the pattern of change in meteorological conditions necessary for the formation of large thunderstorm cells.
According to Munich Re, the climatic changes detected are in line with the modelled changes due to human-made climate change.
The reinsurer’s head of geo risks research, Professor Peter Höppe, comments: “In all likelihood, we have to regard this finding as an initial climate-change footprint in our US loss data from the last four decades.
“Previously, there had not been such a strong chain of evidence.
“If the first effects of climate change are already perceptible, all alerts and measures against it have become even more pressing.”