Weather forecast

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Catastrophic wildfires, hurricanes and intensive rainfall will increase in frequency as climate change takes hold, warned a respected scientist last night.

Speaking at a Royal Geographical Society lecture, Professor Andrew Goudie said humans would have to prepare themselves for more "dangerous" weather.

He cited a number of examples, including the four fold increase in major wildfires in California since 1986, which he blamed on rising temperatures and the resulting falling soil moisture levels.

Professor Goudie, from the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, also warned of the link between increasing sea surface temperatures and hurricane intensity.

While some regions, such as the Mediterranean, would suffer falling levels precipitation, other regions, such as Canada and Alaska, would actually see precipitation levels rise. He said temperature rises in northern latitudes would make the air warmer and allow it to hold more moisture.

However, he predicted that most of this rainfall would be more intensive, increasing the risk of flash flooding. "We will all have to get used to the fact that are a huge number of major environmental dangers that are going to become more damaging in the future," said Professor Goudie.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist November 2007