Why and how are cities especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change?

A flooded street.
Image: Colourbox/FAU

IPCC info bites

As a result of climate change, more and more people in cities are exposed to flooding, extreme temperatures, and water or food shortages.

The infrastructure of major cities can be damaged by landslides, flooding, or temperature events, with cascading effects throughout the city. Power outages can affect water pumping, traffic control, street lighting, and hospitals, schools, and homes.

It is primarily poorer and disadvantaged populations that are most at risk and least able to cope with the consequences. The combination of increasing vulnerability and increasing exposure means that more and more urban dwellers are at risk from climate change impacts.

To counteract this, the risks of climate change must be taken into account when planning cities and infrastructure. Reasons why this is often neglected include lack of understanding, conflicting priorities, lack of funding, or lack of access to appropriate technologies.

How is climate change affecting the oceans?

Bild: Colourbox/FAU

Emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from human activity cause ocean warming, acidification, oxygen loss, and other physical and chemical changes that are affecting marine ecosystems around the world. At the same time, natural climate variability and direct human impacts, such as overfishing and pollution, also affect marine ecosystems locally, regionally and globally. These climatic and non-climatic factors mutually reinforce each other.

IPCC Report info bites


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. In their latest report, published in late February, scientists outline the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place. One of the report’s main authors is Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kiessling, head of the Chair of Palaeontology at FAU.

Wolfgang Kießling on the World Climate Report