In a year overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic fallout, 2021 nevertheless saw progress towards in strengthening early warning services and building resilience to extreme weather and climate change impacts in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.
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Climate change is exacerbating both water scarcity and water-related hazards, as rising temperatures disrupt precipitation patterns and the entire water cycle. Currently, 3.6 billion people face inadequate access to water at least a month per year and this is expected to increase to more than 5 billion by 2050.
Climate change has made extreme rainfall events similar to those that led to last month’s floods in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg between 1.2 and 9 times more likely to happen, according to a rapid attribution study by an international team of climate scientists, which also found that such downpours in the region are now 3-19% heavier because of human-caused warming.
Heavy rainfall has triggered devastating flooding causing dozens of casualties in Western Europe. Parts of Scandinavia are enduring a lasting heatwave, and smoke plumes from Siberia have affected air quality across the international dateline in Alaska. The unprecedented heat in Western North America has also triggered devastating wildfires.
The Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative is mobilizing an additional US$ 28 million to deliver early warning systems in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDs) to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of severe weather.