The extent and impact of climate-related extreme events depend on the underlying meteorological, hydrological, or climatological drivers as well as on human factors such as land use or population density. Here we quantify the pure effect of historical and future climate change on the exposure of land and population to extreme climate impact events using an unprecedentedly large ensemble of harmonized climate impact simulations from the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project phase 2b. Our results indicate that global warming has already more than doubled both the global land area and the global population annually exposed to all six categories of extreme events considered: river floods, tropical cyclones, crop failure, wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves. Global warming of 2°C relative to preindustrial conditions is projected to lead to a more than fivefold increase in cross-category aggregate exposure globally. Changes in exposure are unevenly distributed, with tropical and subtropical regions facing larger increases than higher latitudes. The largest increases in overall exposure are projected for the population of South Asia.
Published in Earth’s Future, AGU