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Weather events causing insurance hikes -

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(generated from captions) to climbing temperatures.

It's consistent with what we expect due to higher temperatures and there has been global warming taking place through that period and certainly when we project into the future

for much stronger amounts of warming we see in our models more intense tropical cyclones. Statistical research shows extreme weather events are happening more frequently. There has been an increase in the more intense tropical cyclones.

There has been an increase in... there have been more frequent heavy rainfall events in many parts of the world as well. There's also been an increase in the number of hot spells, extreme high temperature events. Fires, floods and storms caused by cataclysmic weather

have a terrible human cost and also a financial one. The insurance bill from Hurricane Katrina is in the billions of dollars. Well, I think some of the old rules about one in 25-year events, one in 50-year events in terms of floods and storms, in terms of the severity of these storms is probably going out the window and is having to be reassessed. Certainly the pattern of the last few years indicates that there are going to be a continuous number of major catastrophic events worldwide so it's being reassessed on a weekly, monthly basis.

The big insurance companies that cover such events are now starting to take global warming very seriously. A lot of research is actually being done to determine just what those changes in patterns will be and what the longer term affects will be. Certainly the insurance industry is very concerned about it. It's a major problem for the reinsurers because they're the ones that take the claims for the big catastrophic events so a lot of work is being done to determine just how those future patterns will affect the insurance industry. That research is now big business for insurance companies as they race to predict which parts of the world are most likely to be hit by extreme weather. All the major reinsurance companies have their own R&D units where they employ climatologists and academics and specialists in the field of climate change and also looking at things like volcanoes and other natural events and they spend a lot of time studying the weather patterns but also studying the actual events that occur right around the world. And insurance costs are starting to rise as a result. The big reinsurance companies that cover the smaller companies are putting up their rates to cover disastrous weather events, and that's having a top-down affect. There certainly is an increased body of evidence that there is global warming and that it's having an impact on the type of events that we're seeing around the world, so yes, it will have an impact on the reinsurance and insurance rates over time.

Australian insurers say the flow-on costs will mostly effect will mostly affect big commercial risk premiums rather than small domestic ones such as those covered by home and contents insurance. Rachel Carbonell, Lateline. Well, Dr Vicky Pope is the head of the Climate Prediction Program at the Hadley Centre in Britain, and she joins us from Exeter to discuss just what is causing this wild weather, and what the future may hold.

Vicky Pope, thanks for being there.

Good evening. Now the US research I

referred to at the start of

referred to at the start of the

Showblitzes that the number of

Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has

nearly doubled worldwide in the

nearly doubled worldwide in the past 35 years. Do you know why that's

happening? Well, there's evidence

that, as you say, the storms have

increasedt really that well

understood why that is. Certainly

in the Atlantic temperatures of the

sea surface have increased as well

and you would expect that stronger