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It has been difficult to predict how weather extremes such as heat waves and cold snaps might change in a future climate. Now, a team of researchers from the Universities of Wageningen, Montpellier and Exeter revealed an unfair pattern. The research team found that rich countries that contributed most to climate change will see less temperature fluctuation, whereas in poor countries the fluctuations will become stronger.
While temperature variability is predicted to decrease outside of the tropics, it will increase in tropical countries – countries that are often too poor to deal with these changes. Temperature variability increases by up to approximately 15% per degree of global warming in Amazonia and Southern Africa, and by up to 10% per degree in the Sahel, India and South East Asia.
For their investigation the team analysed 37 different climate models that have been used for the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The results point to a previously overlooked climate injustice. SENSE postdoc Sebastian Bathiany (WUR), lead author of the study, says: 'The countries that have contributed least to climate change and have the least economic potential to cope with the impacts, are facing the largest increases in temperature variability.' These increases are bad news for tropical societies and ecosystems that are not adapted to fluctuations outside of the typical range.