Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hesitance to Link Some Weather Events to Climate Change 'No Longer Appropriate'

Fast study showed climate change's influence on Louisiana's devastating floods. The method is being used to more quickly assess some types of extreme weather.

The downpours in Louisiana damaged 60,000 homes and tested scientists' ability to quickly determine climate change's role in the disaster. (Credit: Reuters) Click to Enlarge.
The death and destruction from three days of relentless rain in Louisiana were just coming into grim focus when a team of international climate scientists started discussing whether they could quickly assess the downpour's link to climate change.

By the time their study was published less than a month later, concluding that climate change made such an extreme rain event at least 40 percent more likely in the central Gulf Coast area in 2016 compared to 1900, the storm's staggering toll was clear.  At least 13 people were killed and more than 60,000 homes damaged.  More than 140,000 people have applied for federal aid, according to FEMA, and 20 Louisiana parishes have been declared federal disaster areas.
Researchers with the group World Weather Attribution (WWA), along with scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are among those trying to determine climate change's role in extreme weather as fast as possible.
For years, scientists hesitated to link any extreme weather event to climate change.  But that's changed in the last decade due to the emerging field of attribution science, which uses observational data, climate models or both to calculate how specific weather events are impacted by all the extra heat trapped in the Earth's atmosphere.  The world is about 1 degree Celsius hotter than it was in 1880, which may seem barely perceptible, but it creates tremendous energy spread across the entire surface of the planet.  Its complex impacts include creating extra moisture that can fuel weather extremes like severe downpours.

Read more at Hesitance to Link Some Weather Events to Climate Change 'No Longer Appropriate'

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