Connecting extreme weather and climate change

By RTCC Staff

Could the link between greenhouse gases and extreme weather be compared to steroids and an athlete? (Source: Steve Gamer 31/creative commons)

A new resource website aimed at highlighting the connection between climate change and extreme weather has been launched by the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

Entitled “Weather on Steroids”, the website aims to summarise and analyse recent research into the links between extreme weather events and climate change.

It aims to examine the different techniques used by scientists when it comes to confirming that link, and suggest where research may move in the future.

Examples of events used in the report include:

-The 2003 European heatwave
-Increased rainfall and flooding in the UK in 2000 and in New York in 2011
-The series of tornadoes in the USA during Spring 2011.

As the title implies, the report addresses the claims that carbon dioxide – along with other greenhouse gases – has a ‘steroids’ effect on the climate system.

©UCAR. Video by Noah Besser, produced by UCAR Communications for AtmosNews: NCAR & UCAR Science

“Just as a baseball player on steroids can occasionally strike out, the climate system with increased greenhouse gases can still experience record cold temperatures – but the chances of record high temperatures are still much greater,” explains NCAR scientist Jerry Meehl.

The report details the work of scientists at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy from the US as well as colleagues in Europe and Africa.

Key areas of focus for the report is a sliding-scale of analysis on the different types of extreme weather and how related they are to rising in greenhouse gases.

It also aims to highlight where this complex area of study is heading.

While the link between weather and climate change has been alluded to by climate scientists, it is only recently – particularly after IPCC’s 2001 report on Extreme Events and Disasters – that the facts have become clearer.

The report aims to provide background for reporters, policy makers and other looking at weather events and their link to climate change.

Read the full report here.

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