Extreme Weather Events Will Be More Frequent In the Future: Climate Study

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) recently published a report revealing a substantial link between climate change and various global extreme weather events of 2017. Titled “Explaining Extreme Events of 2017: From a Climate Perspective,” the report offers 17 analyses that comprise: Droughts in the U.S. Northern Plains and East Asia; floods in South America, China, and Bangladesh; as well as severe heat waves in Europe, China, and the Tasman Sea near the Coast of Australia. Out of the analyses, 70 percent found human-caused climate change to be the determining factor of the event.

These extreme weather events are not new; BAMS highlighted the emergence of this trend beginning in 2016. However, the 2017 report, which examines extreme weather conditions in 10 countries, reveals that the frequency as well as severity of these events may be increasing each year.

Key findings include:

  • “Climate change has made the chances of heatwaves in the Euro-Mediterranean region that are at least as hot as 2017’s three times more likely than they were in 1950. The chance of such a heatwave recurring is now 10 percent in any given year. […]
  • Climate change made the 2017 Northern Great Plains drought 1.5 times more likely by shifting the balance between precipitation and evapo-transpiration of soil moisture. […]
  • Extreme, 6-day pre-monsoon rainfall that inundated northeast Bangladesh was made up to 100 percent more likely by climate change.
  • Climate change has made chances of the extreme rain that collapsed thousands of houses in southeastern China in June 2017 twice as likely.
  • Peru’s flooding rains of March 2017 were influenced by a natural cycle of warm coastal waters, but human-caused climate change on top of that made such extremes at least 1.5 times more likely.
  • Scientists found that the record sea surface temperatures in the Tasman Sea in 2017 and 2018 were virtually impossible without global warming.
  • Extremely warm sea surface temperatures off the coast of Africa doubled the probability of 2017’s East Africa drought, which left more than 6 million people in Somalia facing food shortages.
  • An analysis found the extreme ocean warmth could not have occurred in a pre-Industrial climate. Record-low Arctic sea ice due to climate change influenced record-breaking precipitation deficits across a large part of western Europe in December 2016.”

This seventh annual report goes further than previous years by providing insight on how all levels of society can act to manage the devastating effects of extreme weather events moving forward. The goal is to drive collaboration between climate scientists and policymakers in order to craft practical approaches to safeguard society from this pressing threat.

For more information on this issue, please visit the HSDL featured topics on climate change.

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