An insurance industry association, the Geneva Association, which describes itself as “the leading international think tank of the insurance industry” has published a report on ocean warming and its implications for the insurance industry.
The report finds that there is robust evidence that the global oceans have been warming over recent decades. Whilst many think of the atmosphere when thinking of the effects of climate change it is the oceans that are the key driver of global extreme events.
The report identifies three main drivers of change in loss potentials:
- Greater volumes of water, greater risks. Not only do rising sea-levels increase the risk of flooding or the potential impact of storm surges, but they also decrease the protective lifespan of coastal infrastructure.
- Drier dry and wetter wet. A warmer ocean also means more water in the atmosphere. A warmer atmosphere contains more water and therefore more energy. This has the potential to increase the intensity of extreme events and associated precipitation.
- Effects on large-scale climate phenomena are likely but currently unknown. Due to the long timescales of ocean dynamics and the relatively short length of observational data, the effects of changes on catastrophic risk are currently unclear.
In addition to more comprehensive means of assessing risk, the report urges governments and the private sector to increase the resilience of communities by managing risks through a series of means, in particular building resilient infrastructure.
The 22 page report as well as a fact sheet and a press release are available at https://www.genevaassociation.org/research/topics-sub-pages/climate-risk-subpage/ocean-warming