Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Weather records due to climate change: A game with loaded dice

March 26, 2012
The past decade has been one of unprecedented weather extremes. Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany argue that the high incidence of extremes is not merely accidental. From the many single events a pattern emerges. At least for extreme rainfall and heat waves the link with human-caused global warming is clear, the scientists show in a new analysis of scientific evidence in the journal Nature Climate Change. Less clear is the link between warming and storms, despite the observed increase in the intensity of hurricanes.

In 2011 alone, the US was hit by 14 extreme weather events which caused damages exceeding one billion dollars each - in several states the months of January to October were the wettest ever recorded. Japan also registered record rainfalls, while the Yangtze river basin in China suffered a record drought. Similar record-breaking events occurred also in previous years. In 2010, Western Russia experienced the hottest summer in centuries, while in Pakistan and Australia record-breaking amounts of rain fell. 2003 saw Europe's hottest summer in at least half a millennium. And in 2002, the weather station of Zinnwald-Georgenfeld measured more rain in one day than ever before recorded anywhere in Germany - what followed was the worst flooding of the Elbe river for centuries.

"A question of probabilities"

"The question is whether these weather extremes are coincidental or a result of climate change," says Dim Coumou, lead author of the article. "Global warming can generally not be proven to cause individual extreme events - but in the sum of events the link to climate change becomes clear." This is what his analysis of data and published studies shows. "It is not a question of yes or no, but a question of probabilities," Coumou explains. The recent high incidence of weather records is no longer normal, he says.

"It's like a game with loaded dice," says Coumou. "A six can appear every now and then, and you never know when it happens. But now it appears much more often, because we have changed the dice." The past week illustrates this: between March 13th and 19th alone, historical heat records were exceeded in more than a thousand places in North America.

Three pillars: basic physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations

The scientists base their analysis on three pillars: basic physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations. Elementary physical principles already suggest that a warming of the atmosphere leads to more extremes. For example, warm air can hold more moisture until it rains out. Secondly, clear statistical trends can be found in temperature and precipitation data, the scientists explain. And thirdly, detailed computer simulations also confirm the relation between warming and records in both temperature and precipitation.

With warmer ocean temperatures, tropical storms - called typhoons or hurricanes, depending on the region - should increase in intensity but not in number, according to the current state of knowledge. In the past decade, several record-breaking storms occurred, for example hurricane Wilma in 2004. But the dependencies are complex and not yet fully understood. The observed strong increase in the intensity of tropical storms in the North Atlantic between 1980 and 2005, for example, could be caused not just by surface warming but by a cooling of the upper atmosphere. Furthermore, there are questions about the precision and reliability of historic storm data.

Overall, cold extremes decrease with global warming, the scientists found. But this does not compensate for the increase in heat extremes.

Climatic warming can turn an extreme event into a record-breaking event

"Single weather extremes are often related to regional processes, like a blocking high pressure system or natural phenomena like El Niño," says Stefan Rahmstorf, co-author of the article and chair of the Earth System Analysis department at PIK. "These are complex processes that we are investigating further. But now these processes unfold against the background of climatic warming. That can turn an extreme event into a record-breaking event."

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)


Related Weather Extremes Current Events and Weather Extremes News Articles


Camargue flamingos starved in freezing conditions in 1985 and 2012 mass mortalities
1985 was one of the worst years in living memory for the flamingo population of the Camargue, France. Over a 15 day period in January, temperatures plummeted, the lagoons, ponds and salt pans where the birds feed froze and by the time the Arctic blast had loosened its grip, almost one third of the population was dead.

Damage assessment of runaway barges at Marseilles lock and dam
It takes a synchronized lock and dam system-operating like a motorized flight of stairs on the Illinois River, using gravity to move the water-to maintain a minimum depth for boat traffic.

Regional weather extremes linked to atmospheric variations
Variations in high-altitude wind patterns expose particular parts of Europe, Asia and the US to different extreme weather conditions, a new study has shown.

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern
Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East.

Taking action to deliver agriculture growth, jobs, food security in face of climate change
The influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released this week, concluded that climate change is already damaging food production and increasing food prices, and will have further impacts in the future.

Climate change won't reduce deaths in winter
New research published today (Sunday 23rd February) has found that climate change is unlikely to reduce the UK's excess winter death rate as previously thought.

Climate Forecasts Shown to Warn of Crop Failures
Climate data can help predict some crop failures several months before harvest, according to a new study from an international team, including a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

El Nino unusually active in the late 20th century
Spawning droughts, floods, and other weather disturbances world-wide, the El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO) impacts the daily life of millions of people. During El Niño, Atlantic hurricane activity wanes and rainfall in Hawaii decreases while Pacific winter storms shift southward, elevating the risk of floods in California.

New grass hybrid could help reduce the likelihood of flooding
A collaboration of plant and soil scientists from across the UK has shown a grass hybrid species could help reduce the impact of flooding.

Restoration and recommendations for flood-damaged bottomlands
Although the 2012 drought in the Midwest may have dimmed the memories for some of the 2011 Ohio and Mississippi River flood, engineers, landowners, conservationists, crop scientists and soil scientists haven't forgotten.
More Weather Extremes Current Events and Weather Extremes News Articles

Extreme Weather: Surviving Tornadoes, Sandstorms, Hailstorms, Blizzards, Hurricanes, and More! (National Geographic Kids)

Extreme Weather: Surviving Tornadoes, Sandstorms, Hailstorms, Blizzards, Hurricanes, and More! (National Geographic Kids)
by Thomas M. Kostigen (Author)


Record heat. Record storms. Record drought, snow, rain, and ocean levels. What's going on? In a world of crazy weather exacerbated by climate change, knowing about tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, derachos, blizzards, and storms is more important than ever. This book, based on cutting-edge science and first-hand accounts, helps kids learn about what's going on and what to do about it.

Extreme Weather (Insiders)

Extreme Weather (Insiders)
by H. Michael Mogil (Author), Barbara G. Levine (Author)


Extreme Weather is packed with high-quality images and diagrams on everything from types of storms to how to observe weather to places known for their specific extreme weather.

Which layer in the atmosphere contains Earth's weather?
How are strong winds maintained?
How does water form clouds?
What damage is caused by falling hail?

Extreme Weather, a new book in the visually stunning, groundbreaking INSIDERS series, answers all these questions and more. Packed with high quality images and diagrams on everything from types of storms to how to observe weather to places known for their specfic extreme weather. Full-energy spreads approach the topics through unique and unexpected angles, taking the reader inside the action. Engaging and fun to read, this series will...

Extreme Weather! Learn Fun Facts About Storms and Natural Disasters: Such as Earthquakes, Floods, Tsunamis, Volcanoes & Much More in this Weather Book for Kids! (Kid's Nature Books Series 1)

Extreme Weather! Learn Fun Facts About Storms and Natural Disasters: Such as Earthquakes, Floods, Tsunamis, Volcanoes & Much More in this Weather Book for Kids! (Kid's Nature Books Series 1)


Extreme weather events occur around the world all of the time. Some of these events also lead to natural disasters of varying degrees.

In her latest children’s book “Extreme Weather! Learn Fun Facts About Storms and Natural Disasters: Such as Earthquakes, Floods, Tsunamis, Volcanoes & Much More in this Weather Book for Kids!” author Leanne Annett walks through a variety of extreme weather events and Natural disasters. This is the first book in the "Kids Nature Books Series".

The book is full of color images to clearly show what each of the extreme weather events is.

There is also a section of basic survival preparedness and the importance of talking about extreme weather and natural disasters before they occur. This is beneficial for kids as it...

Extreme Weather and Climate

Extreme Weather and Climate
by C. Donald Ahrens (Author), Perry J. Samson (Author)


Written in down-to-earth style, vividly illustrated and full of technology support, this text will give you a broad scientific understanding of the forces of nature that are sometimes unleashed in such life-changing events as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and severe thunderstorms.

National Geographic Extreme Weather Survival Guide: Understand, Prepare, Survive, Recover

National Geographic Extreme Weather Survival Guide: Understand, Prepare, Survive, Recover
by Thomas M. Kostigen (Author)


Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes--weather is becoming extreme, and this book tells you how to plan ahead and prepare, respond to emergencies, and survive the worst-case scenarios. From the risks of building on changing coastlines to the safety kit you should have packed up at home, from the telltale signs of a hurricane on the horizon to how to power up when the grid goes down--this will be the one book to carry with you through all kinds of bad weather. Divided into four sections (Hot, Cold, Wet, Dry) each chapter includes a level-headed discussion of current weather extremes, facts and details on conditions, and theories for why these changes are occurring; dos and don'ts for inside and outside; and gives at-a-glance guidance for how to prepare for, survive, and recover from...

Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate, and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future

Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate, and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future
by Adam Sobel (Author)


A renowned scientist takes us through the devastating and unprecedented events of Hurricane Sandy, using it to explain our planet’s changing climate, and what we need to do to protect ourselves and our cities for the future.Was Hurricane Sandy a freak event—or a harbinger of things to come?  Was climate change responsible?  What connects the spiraling clouds our satellites saw from space, the brackish water that rose up over the city’s seawalls, and the slow simmer of greenhouse gases? Why weren't we better prepared?In this fascinating and accessible work of popular science, atmospheric scientist and Columbia University professor Adam Sobel addresses these questions, combining scientific explanation with first-hand experience of the event itself.He explains the remarkable...

Extreme Weather! Weather For Kids Book On Storms: Hurricanes, Tornados, Blizzards, Thunderstorms & Much More (Kid's Nature Books Series 2)

Extreme Weather! Weather For Kids Book On Storms: Hurricanes, Tornados, Blizzards, Thunderstorms & Much More (Kid's Nature Books Series 2)


Storms and extreme weather events occur around the world all of the time. Some of these storms can be quite severe, causing damage to property, food crops, animals and even human life.

In her latest children’s book “Extreme Weather! Weather For Kids Book On Storms: Hurricanes, Tornados, Blizzards, Thunderstorms & Much More” author Leanne Annett walks through a variety of extreme weather events and storms. This is Leanne's second book in the "Kids Nature Books Series".

The book is full of color images to clearly show what each of the extreme weather events is.

Note: This Extreme Weather Kid's Nature book has been designed for children aged approximately 7 years and older, who can read the book for themselves. Alternatively, parents can read the...

Extreme Weather (Tornadoes To Hurricanes)

Extreme Weather (Tornadoes To Hurricanes)
by Speedy Publishing LLC (Author)


Most children are enthralled by nature, specifically outer space and various weather conditions. Because not everyone lives in a geographic region that experiences tornadoes and hurricanes, picture books are a great way for children to learn about these events. A well illustrated picture book can help students understand how tornadoes and hurricanes are formed, and can help them overcome their fear of these extreme weather situations. When students who have been impacted firsthand by a major storm are able to see the explanation in a neutral, scientific way, it may provide a way for them to heal from their traumatic experiences.

Extreme Weather: A Guide To Surviving Flash Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Heat Waves, Snowstorms, Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters (Macmillan Science)

Extreme Weather: A Guide To Surviving Flash Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Heat Waves, Snowstorms, Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters (Macmillan Science)
by Bonnie Schneider (Author)


Flash floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, mudslides, thunderstorms, and wildfires - these devastating events are happening around the world at an alarming rate. As a Meteorologist on CNN and HLN, Bonnie Schneider reports on these natural disasters, explaining when they're likely to strike, and telling viewers how to respond when they do. In Extreme Weather, Schneider distills that information into a guide for readers. She interviews experts from a wide variety of agencies - including FEMA and NOAA - to provide a comprehensive understanding of the science behind weather patterns and the latest thinking on how to act in dangerous conditions. Ranging from topics that cover every season and every climate, Schneider introduces the reader to the best course of action during weather...

Extreme Weather: Understanding the Science of Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Heat Waves, Snow Storms, Global Warming, and Other Atmospheric Disturbances

Extreme Weather: Understanding the Science of Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Heat Waves, Snow Storms, Global Warming, and Other Atmospheric Disturbances
by H. Michael Mogil (Author)


The ultimate guide to the planet-altering effects of extreme weather, featuring full-color photos and fascinating explanations of how weather systems work—now in paperback

Recent decades have brought record temperatures, devastating storms, and killer waves, which have in turn spurred widespread curiosity about how such weather systems develop. Organized by weather event—including hurricanes, winter storms, lightning, tornadoes, floods, heat waves, and more—Extreme Weather takes an eye-popping look at exactly how meteorological systems work and evenhandedly discusses the impact human activity has had in altering both weather and climate.

H. Michael Mogil presents the results of his 35 years of meteorological research in a comprehensive overview of extreme weather...

© 2014 BrightSurf.com