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Climate change is responsible for “weather” records 2012

 

Melting sea ice off Greenland

This has been a record-breaking year in terms of heatwaves, drought, floods, hurricanes, melting Arctic ice. There are those who would say we have always had extreme weather events and they have nothing to do with human-induced global warming. But the World Meteorology Organisation (WMO) is in no doubt that all these are signs that global climate change is already happening. The experts brought out their provisional climate report for 2012 in Doha, where the climate talks have so far failed to make any progress.

This has been a year of above-averge temperatures and extreme weather events, according to the WMO. A taste of (climate) things to come, says Jeremiah Lengoasa, the Secretary General of the UN’s weather body. Forest fires in the northern hemisphere, record temperatures in Europe and the USA, a cooler summer in northern Europe but an unusually hot one in the south of the continent. Drought in the USA,  parts of China, Brazil, floods in West Africa, Pakistan, Argentina and southern China, extremely cold winter in eastern Russia, a third season of super-strong hurricanes in the Atlantic , record sea ice minimum in the Arctic…. Lengoasa says climate change is no longer a threat for the future. It’s already here.

Road flooded, Alice Springs 2008

Experts say climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events. This show flooding in Alice Springs, Central Australia, when I was there in 2008. Expecting the dusty “red centre”, I was surprised to meet with floods and frogs!

 

Date

December 3, 2012 | 2:35 pm

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Evidence indicates link between weather extremes and global warming

Rhine booth under water 2011

No boat tickets today! - Rhine in flood January 2011

Some ice blog readers have asked about the evidence that climate change is responsible for the increase in extreme weather events as discussed in the last post. This is something which is discussed a lot both by scientists and the general public. After all, it’s hard to find a more talked-about subject than the weather. Just this weekend, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has just published a study in the journal Nature Climate Change on this very topic. The scientists say the last decade was a record in terms of extreme weather and that the increase was “very likely” caused by human-made global warming. They say there is now strong evidence for linking heatwaves and extreme rainfall to the human influence on climate. The evidence is less conclusive for other types of extreme weather like storms, but the scientists say observed trends and basic physics suggest it is plausible to expect an increase there too.

The study looks at extreme weather across the globe, including record rainfall events in Japan, record drought in the Chinese Yangtse basin, the hottest ever summer in western Russia (2010) and numerous extreme weather events in the USA.

The study is based on physics, analysis of statistics and computer simulations. The scientists say basic physics make it likely that a warming of the atmosphere will lead to more extremes. For instance warm air can hold more moisture until it suddenly falls as heavy rain. The statistics show clear trends in temperature and precipitation data. Last but not least, complex computer models confirm the link between warming and record temperatures and rainfall. Now that’s a fair bit of evidence to be going on with, don’t you think?

 

Date

March 26, 2012 | 1:42 pm

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Extreme weather on the increase

Road flooded, Alice Springs 2008

Experts say climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events. This shows flooding in Central Australia, 2008

Today is World Meteorological Day. An appropriate date to consider some of the findings reported at the Extreme Weather Congress which has been taking place in Hamburg over the last few days. Paul Becker, the President of Germany’s weather service, said extreme weather events here had more than tripled since the 1970s. Professor Peter Höppe from the German reinsurance group Munich Re explained how changes in the atmosphere played a role in bringing about this increase. And Professor Mojib Latif from the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel told the conference climate change would continue, as current efforts to reduce CO2 emissions are insufficient. The 2° goal, he said, was only still possible in theory. Experts are calling for better preparedness for severe weather. I’d like to give you some links to English-language coverage of the conference findings, but there seems to be a shortage. German media have given some attention to the conference reporting the rising number of extreme weather events here, but not masses. Here’s hoping we’re not all getting so used to all this that people lose interest in reducing emissions and helping to stabilise the climate. Clearly, the impact hits developing countries harder. But we don’t need to wait for the next catastrophe before tackling the risks.

Date

March 23, 2012 | 11:23 am

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Arctic Ice and our Weather

Sea ice off Greenland

Sea ice off Greenland

Apologies for a long spell of ice-blog silence, but your ice blogger is now back on the

(snow?-) ball.

The German papers today tell us to expect temperatures dropping to as low as MINUS 20 C in the course of this week. After a relatively mild winter so far, this will be a shock to the system for a lot of people. And of course, we’ll be back to the old discussion about how it can be this cold when the world is warming… Somehow people are more willing to accept that the climate is changing when the plants are all starting to come up ahead of time. But maybe the cold snap will help draw attention to a new study by Germany’s Alfred-Wegener Institute explaining the connection between the extent of the Arctic sea ice in summer and our winter weather in central Europe.

Date

January 31, 2012 | 12:07 pm

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“When the snow lay round about” – because of global warming?


Snow on trees – beautiful, if you ask me, and appropriate weather for this time of year. Of course not everybody sees it that way. Most of the people supposedly always “Dreamin’ of a white Christmas…” have been whinging non-stop since the snow started, admittedly a good bit ahead of the feast itself.
And then, yes, off we went. They’re at it again. Newspapers, people on the (much delayed) train, friends on the telephone… the same old story… “so much for climate change. Do you know how much snow is on my doorstep…?”
Well I was in a way relieved to know that George Monbiot has been encountering the same problem – and has a suitable explanation to hand. Let me direct you to “That snow outside is what global warming looks like” in a recent edition of the Guardian.
“The cold has reason in a deathly grip” – does that sound a bit drastic?

Date

December 28, 2010 | 3:44 pm

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