Saturday, March 12, 2016

Science Can Now Link Climate Change with Some Extreme Weather Events

Penn State professor David Titley chaired an international committee investigating whether science can confidently link human-induced climate change with different types of extreme weather events. Here, Titley gives a public lecture on the committee's findings, which published on March 11. (Image Credit: Jennifer Burris Olson / National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) Click to Enlarge.
Extreme weather events like floods, heat waves and droughts can devastate communities and populations worldwide.  Recent scientific advances have enabled researchers to confidently say that the increased intensity and frequency of some, but not all, of these extreme weather events is influenced by human-induced climate change, according to an international National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report released March 11.

"In the past, many scientists have been cautious of attributing specific extreme weather events to climate change.  People frequently ask questions such as, 'Did climate change cause Hurricane Sandy?'  Science can't answer that because there are so many relevant factors for hurricanes. What this report is saying is that we can attribute an increased magnitude or frequency of some extreme weather events to climate change," said David Titley, professor of practice in Penn State's Department of Meteorology and founding director of Penn State's Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, who chaired the committee that wrote the report.

The committee found that scientists can now confidently attribute some heat waves and cold events, and to a lesser degree droughts and extreme rainfall, to human-caused climate change. Even a decade ago, many scientists argued that research could not confidently tie any specific weather events to climate change, which the committee reports today is no longer true today.

"If we can actually understand how and why frequencies or magnitudes change of extreme events are changing, those are two components of risk.  Understanding that risk is crucial for governments and businesses.  For example, if you're managing a business, you may need to know whether there may be more droughts in the future because that may impact supply chain logistics and, ultimately, your bottom dollar," said Titley.

Read more at Science Can Now Link Climate Change with Some Extreme Weather Events

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