Understanding climate
for the benefit of society

Research theme

Climate Hazards

Extreme events and abrupt changes to the climate system.


Keywords: Tipping points, extreme weather, sea level rise, abrupt climate changes, glacier stability. 

Extreme precipitation, storms, droughts and heat waves will become more common and severe as the global temperature increases, causing hazards to society such as flooding or harvest failures. In addition, climate hazards are caused by unstable ice sheets, major ecosystem changes and abrupt changes in the circulation in the atmosphere or the ocean. 

We focus on understanding the causes and dynamics of extreme events and abrupt changes in the climate system, including identifying critical thresholds, understanding how such events develop, and what consequences they have. Furthermore, we are working towards improving predictions of the likelihood, extent and impact of climate hazards, and are collaborating with stakeholders in private and public sectors.

In the interdisciplinary hazards theme we combine observations, reconstructions and simulations of different kinds of extreme events that pose a risk to society. These include ice sheet and glacier instability, ecosystem change, circulation changes in the ocean and the atmosphere, extreme weather, and high sea level stands. 

Some of our research questions are:

  • How will gradual climate change and thresholds in the climate system impact the frequency and severity of climate hazards?
  • How does internal climate variability contribute and influence the extremes? How does model bias influence the prediction of extremes?
  • Will the current committed warming trigger abrupt changes in sea level rise due to ice sheet collapse? 
  • What can we learn from extreme events, circulation changes, and warm climates of the past?
  • To what extent can society and industry adapt to extreme events, including flooding, sea level high stands, landslides and storms? 

The research group is interdisciplinary and integrates models and observations in the study of extreme weather and climate in the past, present and future. The group will integrate all parts of the Bjerknes Centre’s research on climate hazards, while also increasing the collaboration with stakeholders in private and public sectors.

Strategic projects