Floods, heat, migration: How extreme weather will transform cities

Story highlights

  • Tropical storm in Philippines comes just after report on climate change predicts floods
  • Climate change refugees are catalyst to urbanization, stretching city capacity
  • Climate scientists predict how effects of climate change will impact city
  • Floods, droughts, and "urban heat islands" among common characteristics
When Tropical Storm Washi ripped through the southern Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro last weekend, it dumped in one day more than the city's entire average rainfall for the month of December.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, a total of 181 millimeters of rainfall was recorded in the area last Friday, compared to the expected 99.9 millimeters for the whole month.
The devastating flash floods, which have so far claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people, arrived just weeks after a report from the UK's Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change indicated that global warming has significantly increased the number of people at risk from flooding.
The report, "Climate: Observations, projections and impacts," examined how climate change will modify the weather in 24 countries around the world.
While findings vary from region to region, it forecasts an overall increase this century of coastal and river floods, extreme weather events and a global temperature rise of between 3-5C, if emissions are left unchecked.
According to climate change experts, cities from New York in the U.S. to Dhaka in Bangladesh are likely to be heavily affected.
Simon Reddy, executive director of the C40 Cities network, which promotes sustainable development among local city authorities around the world, says this could be a catalyst for migration into urban areas.