04 - fact sheet

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How will changing storm activity influence insurance and forestry?
Windstorms impact on the whole European economy, particularly forestry and insurance. Storms in Europe in October 1987 destroyed the equivalent of two years of timber production in the UK, while the storms at the end of 1999 destroyed 10 percent of French forests. In western Europe, the January 1990 storm caused insured losses of around £4 billion and 95 deaths, and was quickly followed by another storm causing a further £2.7 billion in losses and 64 deaths. Insurance and forestry industries may need to prepare for worse to come. The period since about 1970 has seen a steep increase in storminess, although this increase cannot necessarily be blamed on global warming. Although results are inconclusive, most climate models predict an increase in storm activity in future and a consensus is emerging that storms will intensify over Europe in response to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Dr Jean Palutikof, a researcher based at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, will work with a team of researchers from the University's School of Environmental Sciences to shed light on the likely occurrence of future high winds due to climate change, and the subsequent impacts on the insurance and forestry industries. Dr Palutikof's team will investigate future changes in cyclone behaviour over the North Atlantic and Europe by applying a storm-tracking model to atmospheric pressure data from the state-of-the-art global climate model at the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre. They will also use regional models to look at details such as landscape and topography, which have a large influence on wind speeds, and analyse changes in high wind speed occurrence. Working with industry experts, they will then examine the impacts of wind changes on forestry and insurance, in order to help these industries prepare for climate change.

A Tyndall Centre project is investigating likely occurrences of high winds due to climate change, and their impacts on insurance and forestry industries. More information Contact the lead investigator of Project IT1.4 (Integrated assessment of the potential for change in storm activity over Europe: implications for insurance and forestry): Dr Jean Palutikof Climatic Research Unit School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK Phone: +44 (0) 59 3647; Fax: +44 (0) 50 7784 Email: Other researchers involved in this project are: Prof. Trevor Davies, Dr Tim Osborn, Dr Clair Hanson, Dr Andrew Dlugolecki, University of East Anglia Mr Christopher Quine, Forestry Commission Research Agency Mr Nicholas Michaelides, CGNU Project duration: April 2001 to May 2003 Useful web sites: The Tyndall Centre: The Climatic Research Unit: ‘STORMS’ Project Web site:

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IT1.04 - fact sheet

The Tsunami Initiative (linking insurance and science): The UK Forestry Commission:

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