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You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Climate change / FAQ / Has there been a change in extreme events like heat waves, droughts, floods and hurricanes?

Has there been a change in extreme events like heat waves, droughts, floods and hurricanes?

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Since 1950, the number of heat waves has increased and widespread increases have occurred in the numbers of warm nights.

The extent of regions affected by droughts has also increased as precipitation over land has marginally decreased while evaporation has increased due to warmer conditions.

Generally, numbers of heavy daily precipitation events that lead to flooding have increased, but not everywhere.

Tropical storm and hurricane frequencies vary considerably from year to year, but evidence suggests substantial increases in intensity and duration since the 1970s. In the extratropics, variations in tracks and intensity of storms reflect variations in major features of the atmospheric circulation, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation.

For more information, see FAQ 3.3, extracted from Chapter 3 of "IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA".

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