Towards estimating the costs of climate change: The effect of rainfall on economic production

Feb 21, 2022, 12:15 pm1:15 pm
virtual seminar
  • Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment
  • High Meadows Environmental Institute
Open to the public, RSVP required.
Event Description

Macro-economic assessments of climate impacts lack an analysis of the distribution of daily rainfall, which can resolve both complex societal impact channels and anthropogenically forced changes. Here, using a global panel of subnational economic output for 1,554 regions worldwide over the past 40 years, we show that economic growth rates are reduced by increases in the number of wet days and in extreme daily rainfall, in addition to responding nonlinearly to the total annual and to the standardized monthly deviations of rainfall. Furthermore, high-income nations and the services and manufacturing sectors are most strongly hindered by both measures of daily rainfall, complementing previous work that emphasized the beneficial effects of additional total annual rainfall in low-income, agriculturally dependent economies. By assessing the distribution of rainfall at multiple timescales and the effects on different sectors, we uncover channels through which climatic conditions can affect the economy. These results suggest that anthropogenic intensification of daily rainfall extremes will have negative global economic consequences that require further assessment by those who wish to evaluate the costs of anthropogenic climate change.

Speaker Bio

Prof. Dr. Anders Levermann is a Professor of the Dynamics of Climate System at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Institute of Physics at the University of Potsdam. Since 2015, he is an affiliated Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University in New York, and he has been a department head at the Potsdam Institute since 2012.

A theoretical physicist with a high-profile publication record in theoretical physics, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, glaciology, societal adaptation and climate economics. He has focuses on the tipping of complex natural and societal systems, i.e. abrupt changes with strong impacts on nature and society. He lead the development of the ice sheet model PISM and the economic damage-propagation model for the global production- and supply network ACCLIMATE. He has published more than 130 articles.