Climate change is expected to increase severe weather events, including heat waves, fire, flooding, hurricanes, and drought. These impacts will have far-reaching implications for economic and social stability, including loss of services and security.
Climate change will greatly increase average temperature (+3.3 to 6°C) and the number of extreme fire weather days (+3.5 to 20 days) by 2040-2069 compared to the recent past (1971–2000). Hot temperatures may compromise health and outside activities for both work and leisure, such as farming, gardening, and summer sports. Fire may cause road closures, breakdown of infrastructure networks such as electricity, water supply, and health and emergency services, disruption of livelihoods, injury, ill health, or even mortality.
Both climate change and socioeconomic factors, which drive population growth, movement, and land use change, are important determinants of these risks. Rural, low density areas are most vulnerable to wildfire because they are close to vegetated areas. Urban density classes are most vulnerable to heat, due to the urban heat island effect. This means that population movement to and growth in urban centers will help reduce exposure to wildfire, but increase exposure to heat.
Risks from fire and heat may compound each other, resulting in greater risk than the sum of individual events. For example, fire may lead to post-fire flooding and debris flow due to loss of vegetation and soil erosion, intensifying vulnerability. Climate change will increase likelihood of heavy precipitation and flooding. Extreme events often interact because they are spatially and temporally dependent, meaning risk can be underestimated.