With anthropogenic warming, extreme events have already increased in magnitude and frequency and are likely to continue to do so in the near future. These extreme events play decisive roles in climate change impacts. Natural and managed systems, such as agriculture and forestry, are more strongly affected by extremes than by a change in average conditions. Classical parameters considered have included temperature, precipitation and wind speed, but here we will concentrate on multi-factorial complex situations, such as drought, and subsequent ecological events, such as pests. Novel methods from finance mathematics and statistics will be transferred for application to natural systems in order to assess risks of extremes in past, present and future conditions. Special emphasis will be given to deriving critical thresholds and prediction for when they will be crossed. Here, analyses of long-term ecoclimatological data from dendrology, phenology, seed quality, as well as both manipulated experiments and simulations are needed to provide information on the effects stemming from multiple stressors and extremes. In contrast, real data, no matter how long-term, cannot model the risk of new threatening combinations of climatological and ecological parameters. Adaptation should therefore focus not only on retrospective but also on new extremes, in other words, should look forward to the future. In particular, low probabilities and high risk scenarios have to be taken into account. Adaptation measures can range from breeding, and selection of suitable species and varieties to management options, such as sanitation and forest protection. Insurance also needs to adapt to changes in climate and ecology and accurate forecasting becomes more critical in the face of unforeseen extremes and calamities. Thus, future risk management must be based on both adaptation and insurance, with new products, such as index insurance, facilitating the handling of customer claims.
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