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Infographic: climate change and 2015’s year of wild weather

Posted on 23 December 2016 by Guest Author

By Andrew King, Climate Extremes Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

The annual review of extreme weather and climate events published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society today highlights how climate change is influencing the events that affect us the most. This table summarises each event and whether climate change played a role.

Across the globe, extreme heat events are linked with climate change, although El Niño provided a boost in 2015 leading to more records being broken. The human influence on rainfall and drought is less strong but we can see it in many events that were studied.

Our influence on the climate extends beyond temperature and rainfall. In the UK, the chance of very sunny winters (which sounds like an oxymoron!) has increased due to climate change. The record low sea ice extents, which have continued into 2016, are strongly associated with human influences.

While the majority of studies have been done on the developed world, more analyses of developing countries are included this year than in the past. Through collaborations between local experts and teams in the United States and Europe, a greater emphasis on extreme events in the developing world was possible.

This is important because the impacts of extreme events are often more severe in these areas than in wealthier regions.

The effects of climate change on extremes spread far and wide as human activities have radically altered our climate. We can expect to see more extreme events with a clear fingerprint of human-caused climate change in the coming years and decades.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article and view the infographic

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. More extreme weather will indeed impact the third world harder. These people live day to day where a single problem is very challenging, and will find climate change hard to cope with. They will want massive financial help, or to immigrate to other countries less affected, or with more wealth.

    We should obviously help, out of compassion, but it will be a lot for western countries to deal with. It's in our interests to reduce this problem occuring in the first place, by reducing emissions. You could call that enlightened self interest. You would think political interests that promote self interest would understand this, but they often can't seem to connect the dots.

    The arctic is warming at quite a rate. This surely has to alter the basic circulatory system that moves heat from the equator to the poles. This could in theory impact on things like the monsoon, in unexpected and unfortunate ways, and entire countries of huge size are adapted (just barely) to this event following a certain pattern. It affects many millions of subsistence or near subsistence farmers. Even a small change in the monsoon system will have serious impact.

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  2. There is a new CBC News article related to this topic "Arctic temperatures soar to 30 C above normal".

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  3. In the vernacular, "You ain't seen nothing yet".  When the Arctic ocean is open for significant periods in the summer, it becomes a giant solar collector.  Instead of prevailing sinking air over the Arctic, we will have rising air, especially in the fall when the land rapidly cools off.  We will have a typical off-shore wind going on for longer and longer periods and sucking climate zones nothward with it.  This added transfer of heat from the south will ensure more melting and the perpetuation of the situation whether or not we knock carbon pollution on the head.  In other words a tipping point or light switch phenomenon.  I wonder how low we would have go get atmospheric Carbon dioxide before we would cause a flip back to the former situration and then how harsh that flip would be for a world that has started to adapt to the new situation. 

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