August besieged California with a heat unseen in generations. A surge in air-conditioning broke the state’s electrical grid, leaving a population already ravaged by the coronavirus to work remotely by the dim light of their cellphones. By mid-month, the state had recorded possibly the hottest temperature ever measured on earth — 130 degrees in Death Valley — and an otherworldly storm of lightning had cracked open the sky. From Santa Cruz to Lake Tahoe, thousands of bolts of electricity exploded down onto withered grasslands and forests, some of them already hollowed out by climate-driven infestations of beetles and kiln-dried by the worst five-year drought on record. Soon, California was on fire.
Riskthinking.AI examines and prices intersecting and cascading risks such as these using algorithmically-generated scenarios-tools and analytics.
California has experienced devastating autumn wildfires in recent years. These autumn wildfires have coincided with extreme fire weather conditions during periods of strong offshore winds coincident with unusually dry vegetation enabled by anomalously warm conditions and late onset of autumn precipitation. In this study, we quantify observed changes in the occurrence and magnitude of meteorological factors that enable extreme autumn wildfires in California, and use climate model simulations to ascertain whether these changes are attributable to human-caused climate change. We show that state-wide increases in autumn temperature (~1 °C) and decreases in autumn precipitation (~30%) over the past four decades have contributed to increases in aggregate fire weather indices (+20%). As a result, the observed frequency of autumn days with extreme (95th percentile) fire weather—which we show are preferentially associated with extreme autumn wildfires—has more than doubled in California since the early 1980s. We further find an increase in the climate model-estimated probability of these extreme autumn conditions since ~1950, including a long-term trend toward increased same-season co-occurrence of extreme fire weather conditions in northern and southern California. Our climate model analyses suggest that continued climate change will further amplify the number of days with extreme fire weather by the end of this century, though a pathway consistent with the UN Paris commitments would substantially curb that increase. Given the acute societal impacts of extreme autumn wildfires in recent years, our findings have critical relevance for ongoing efforts to manage wildfire risks in California and other regions.
The northwest part of the state, usually much wetter, has dried out this year, enabling flames driven by powerful winds to “just explode down these canyons.” Deadly wildfires are a major climate risk factor with which more and more cities in the Pacific Northwest are grappling.
A report commissioned by federal regulators overseeing the nation’s commodities markets has concluded that climate change threatens U.S. financial markets, as the costs of wildfires, storms, droughts and floods spread through insurance and mortgage markets, pension funds and other financial institutions. Riskthinking helps decision-makers better understand the climate-related financial risks they face and respond accordingly.
Mass loss from 2007 to 2017 due to melt-water and crumbling ice aligned almost perfectly with the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) most extreme forecasts, which see the two ice sheets adding up to 40 centimetres (nearly 16 inches) to global oceans by 2100, they reported in Nature Climate Change. Such an increase would have a devastating impact worldwide, increasing the destructive power of storm surges and exposing coastal regions home to hundreds of millions of people to repeated and severe flooding.
The National Coastal Property Model (NCPM) simulates flood damages resulting from sea level rise and storm surge along the contiguous U.S. coastline. The model also projects local-level investments in a set of adaptation measures under the assumption that these measures will be adopted when benefits exceed the costs over a 30-year period. However, it has been observed that individuals and communities often underinvest in adaptive measures relative to standard cost-benefit assumptions due to financial, psychological, sociopolitical, and technological factors. Riskthinking.ai’s forward-looking scenarios can help individuals and communities better understand- and avoid – the costs of sub-optimal flood risk reduction behavior.
California is burning, a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph just blasted into the Louisiana coast, and nearly 180,000 are reported dead from a viral outbreak that is just a harbinger of what one scientist calls “a new pandemic era” driven in part by our changing climate and wanton destruction of ecosystems. While there are positive indicators that people are waking up to the growing threat of climate change, a much greater pace and scale of climate action is needed to stave off its worst effects. Riskthinking.ai provides clients with forward-looking scenarios tools that render a deeper understanding of the true cost of climate risk, in order to drive timely decision-making.
Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica whose melting rates are rapidly increasing have raised the global sea level by 1.8cm since the 1990s, and are matching the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s worst-case climate warming scenarios. Understanding the likelihood and implications of climate scenarios like this one is vital for planning effective responses, and is at the heart of what we do at Riskthinking.ai.
Arctic sea ice is itself an endangered species. Next month its extent will reach its annual minimum, which is poised to be among the lowest on record. The trend is clear: Summer ice covers half the area it did in the 1980s, and because it is thinner, its volume is down 75%. With the Arctic warming three times faster than the global average, most scientists grimly acknowledge the inevitability of ice-free summers, perhaps as soon as 2035. “It’s definitely a when, not an if,” says Alek Petty, a polar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.