New Study: Climate Change Responsible for 3 out of 4 Heat Waves

April 28, 2015

As we head into what may be yet another record summer, with 2015 trending toward record heat, I was up late watching a video created during the massive heat wave of 2012, one I called “Welcome to the Rest of Our Lives”. I think it captured a moment in time when an awful lot of of people started thinking seriously about the impacts of climate change.

Then there’s this:

Carbon Brief:

A new study says 75% of extreme hot days and 18% of days with heavy rainfall worldwide can be explained by the warming we’ve seen over the industrial period.

In a future world with 2C warming above pre-industrial levels, almost all extreme hot days and 40% of heavy rainfall days will be down to rising temperatures, say the authors.

The new study, published today in Nature Climate Change, is the first to estimate how climate change has favoured some types of extreme event right across the globe.

And the message for policymakers is “striking”, says Prof Peter Stott, who leads the Met Office’s climate attribution team but who wasn’t involved in the study.

Extreme weather

Global temperature today is about 0.85C above what it was before the industrial revolution, and most of the rise is driven by human activity. But rising greenhouse gases mean more than an increase in global average temperature. It means changes in extreme weather, too.

Prof Reto Knutti from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and co-author of the new study, tells Carbon Brief:

“Warmer temperatures overall create more hot days, and warmer air can hold and transport more moisture, which at some point must come down. These physical principles have been known for decades.”

New York Times:

If global warming can be brought under control as rapidly as many environmental activists would like, keeping global warming below three degrees Fahrenheit, the new study found that heat extremes might increase only 14-fold later this century, compared with their frequency in the preindustrial world.

But runaway emissions, causing the planet to warm by more than five degrees Fahrenheit, would lead to a 62-fold increase in heat extremes, the researchers found. Other studies have forecast levels of heat and humidity by late this century that could make it dangerous for people to work and play outside, possibly for weeks on end.


4 Responses to “New Study: Climate Change Responsible for 3 out of 4 Heat Waves”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Comment by research meteorologist Martin Hoerling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: “These new results should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the science of climate change and variability”

    University of Arizona climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck comments, “This new study helps get the actual probability or odds of human influence. This is key: If you don’t like hot temperature extremes that we’re getting, you now know how you can reduce the odds of such events by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Peter Stott with the United Kingdom’s Hadley Centre: “The idea that almost half of heavy rainfall events would not have occurred were it not for climate change is a sobering thought for policymakers seeking to mitigate and adapt to climate change”

  2. Sir Charles Says:

    Some recent research:

    A review on climate change effects on vegetation – Past and future

    There is significant current interest and research focus on the phenomenon of recent anthropogenic climate changes or global warming. Focus is on identifying the current impacts of climate change on vegetation and predicting these effects into the future. Changing climate variables relevant to the function and distribution of plants include increasing global temperatures, altered precipitation patterns and changes in season as well as the pattern of extreme weather such a cyclones, fires or storms. Evidences of these changes are inferred from changes in proxies, indicators that reflect climate such as vegetation, ice cores, dendrochronology, sea level change, glacial geology, and archaeological evidences. The main drivers of these changes have been temperature and carbondioxide as well as other greenhouse gases. These drivers increase at a much faster rate by anthropogenic activities than natural influences. Thus this review aims at analyzing at a large scale, the effects of these changes on different vegetation types and on biodiversity and the predictions of these effects on the future vegetation.

    The Household Economy Approach. Managing the impact of climate change on poverty and food security in developing countries

    Climate change is expected to have severe effects on the populations of developing countries because many of these depend heavily on agriculture for income, have large impoverished rural populations which rely on agriculture for subsistence, and are financially and technically least equipped to adapt to changing conditions.

    But adaption to climate change is anything but easy => The dynamics of vulnerability: why adapting to climate variability will not always prepare us for climate change

    The authors argue: “We therefore cannot assume that the vulnerability of the system as a whole is reduced by any particular action to address climate variability. Rather, we might do better to envision vulnerability as a dynamic construct that is constantly shifting as decisions are made and environmental and social conditions change. The challenges raised in this article point to the need for, at the least, a critical evaluation of any no regrets prescription, and perhaps even a rethinking of research and practice with respect to adaptive actions.

    Hard to get immune to climate change, except… you just deny it and hope it won’t catch you in your own lifetime.

  3. Sir Charles Says:

    And some good news:

    Strong Future Forecast for Renewable Energy

    In its forward-looking report for the year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts renewable energy will be the fastest-growing power source through 2040.

    New investments in renewable energy rose from $9 billion in the first quarter of 2004 to $50 billion for 2015’s first quarter, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and the volume of installed photovoltaic systems in the United States has grown every year since 2000.

  4. […] New Study: Climate Change Responsible for 3 out of 4 Heat Waves (Climate Crocks): [T]he message for policymakers is “striking”, says Prof Peter Stott, who leads the Met Office’s climate attribution team but who wasn’t involved in the study. […]

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