Extreme weather has been cited by news outlets as an example of the effects that greenhouse gas emissions have on climate. Experts would respond by emphasizing the difference between climate and weather, warning that extreme weather events cannot be attributed long-term temperature changes. It turns out, meteorologists and climatologists can sometimes establish causal relationships.
Friederike Otto from Oxford University, a climate researcher who is part of the World Weather Attribution collaboration said, “First, it’s essential to emphasize that every climate extreme event has many causes.” MIT Technology Review2020. The question about climate change’s role will not be answered with a simple yes or no answer. The question of “Did climate changes make it more probable or less likely?” or didn’t climate change play a part in making it possible will never be answered.
Climate researchers such as Otto have worked for the past decade on statistical methods to estimate the degree to which warmer temperatures are making extreme weather more frequent and/or increasing their frequency. A technique that can be used to test climate models is using current levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations to determine if the model reproduces the observed trends. The researchers then run the models under preindustrial greenhouse gas concentrations to see if they accurately reflect the real record of weather events. These differences, such as the temperature at the peak of a heatwave, rainfall from a hurricane or timing and intensity of wildfires, can be used to estimate how much man-made global warming might have contributed to extreme weather events.
Take the heatwave of June 2021, which produced records-breaking temperatures across the Pacific Northwest. It saw highs as high as 116 F in Portland, Oregon, 108 in Seattle, Washington, and 121 in Lytton (British Columbia). WWA researchers discovered that there was almost no chance for a heat wave similar to this under preindustrial conditions. “Western North American extreme Heat [was]”It is virtually impossible without climate change caused by humans,” they said.
According to U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), the comprehensive latest report on the science-physical basis of climate change caused by man is “it” Very likely The main factor behind the increased intensity and frequency for hot extremes as well as the decreased frequency and intensity of cold extremes at the global level is human activity. It is no surprise that heat waves are becoming more intense, longer-lasting, and more common, given that the global average temperature has increased by approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius over the past century.
Notable 2021 events that were extreme in nature in the U.S. include Hurricane Ida which devastated the Louisiana coast in August, a devastating December tornado outbreak in Kentucky and the Colorado wildfire in December that decimated 1,000 homes just outside Boulder. These events could all be considered strong examples for weather being climate.
Ida became a Category 2 storm, with wind speeds between 74 to 95 mph and Category 4. It was able to intensify from a Category 1 storm that produced winds of 74 to 95 mph to Category 4, which generated winds between 130 and 160 mph. Parts of southeast Louisiana were hit with between 15 to 20 inches of rainfall.
Study “Prove limited evidence of ananthropogenic effects” [tropical cyclone]The IPCC report noted that there have been no intensifications thus far, but high levels of confidence in future increases. [tropical cyclone] heavy precipitation.” The evidence that global warming causes hurricanes to spin faster is weaker than the evidence it increases rainfall during storms. According to WWA research, global warming may have increased the intensity of Hurricane Harvey’s 2017 rainfall by 15%.
The observational data and climate models cannot be used to make a conclusive conclusion about the impact of climate change on tornadoes. The IPCC report states that although the U.S. average tornado count has been constant since the 1970s their distribution seems to have shifted from the Great Plains towards the mid-South.
High temperatures and drought are the main ingredients of fire weather. According to the IPCC research, the area of global fire weather seasons that are affected by prolonged fire-weather periods doubled between 1979 and 2013. The average fire-weather season length also increased 19% from 1979 to 2013. However, despite climate change occurring “at the global level”, “the total area that has been burned between 1998-2015 due to human activities such as intensification and agricultural expansion” is decreasing.
The statewide temperature in Colorado was four degrees above the average for 2021 and this period of six months was the most dry ever recorded. However, on the morning of the fires in Boulder, December 30, 2018, the National Weather Service didn’t issue a warning to the area about fire weather because it was not below 15 percent relative humidity.
A May 2021 Climatic Change article, Otto and her collaborators observe that extreme event attribution studies have three primary uses: answering questions from the public, providing information on how to adapt to future weather extremes, and, last but not least, “increasing the ‘immediacy’ of climate change, thereby increasing support for mitigation.” The policy of mitigation is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning oil, coal and natural gas.
Roger Pielke Jr, University of Colorado climate scientist, says that every time you read or hear about a disaster linked to climate, it is really a promotional message. It encourages you to think climate change is important, and to help reduce the impact of future extremes.
Although reducing carbon dioxide emission will be a significant part of tackling the issue of man-made global climate change, this policy will still require large tradeoffs which will impact human progress and well being. Pielke points out that it’s not the only way to help mankind cope with weather-related disasters.
People have already been able to prosper through technological and economic innovation as they adjust to extreme weather conditions. Bjorn Lombborg, president of Copenhagen Consensus Center noted that this has led to a rise in resilience. Technological Forecasting and Social Movement article, the chance that a person might die from climate-related risks such as floods, droughts, storms, wildfires, and extreme temperatures has fallen by more than 99 percent since 1920.
The ability to attribute research has increased in its capability to determine how climate change affects the possibility of extreme weather. It cannot however tell us how to manage them.