“Climate change is already affecting extreme weather. The National Academy of Sciences reports that the hottest days are now hotter. And the fingerprint of global warming behind this change has been firmly identified.
Since 1950 the number of heat waves worldwide has increased, and heat waves have become longer. The hottest days and nights have become hotter and more frequent. In the past several years, the global area hit by extremely unusual hot summertime temperatures has increased 50-fold. Over the contiguous United States, new record high temperatures over the past decade have consistently outnumbered new record lows by a ratio of 2:1. In 2012, the ratio for the year through June 18 stands at nearly 10:1. Though this ratio is not expected to remain at that level for the rest of the year, it illustrates how unusual 2012 has been, and how these types of extremes are becoming more likely.
The significant increase in heat extremes we have witnessed associated with a small shift in the global average temperature is consistent with climate change. The percentage change in the number of very hot days can be quite large. Global warming boosts the probability of very extreme events, like the recent “Summer in March” episode in the U.S. in which thousands of new record highs were set, far more than it changes the likelihood of more moderate events.
Higher spring and summer temperatures, along with an earlier spring melt, are also the primary factors driving the increasing frequency of large wildfires and lengthening the fire season in the western U.S. over recent decades. The record-breaking fires this year in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Region are consistent with these trends.
The impact of these changes can be devastating. The drought, heat wave and associated record wildfires that hit Texas and the Southern Plains in the summer of 2011 cost US$12 billion.”
That puts the issue of the relationship between Climate Change and weather extremes pretty succinctly. There were two graphics among several in the report which impressed for their clarity and explanatory simplicity. They are attached below.
The whole report is worthy of a read as is the New Scientist article ‘Running Wild’ (July 7, pp31-37). See also ‘Food For Thought #3’ July 2011.
Graphic 1: Ratios of Record High Temperatures to Record Low Temperatures
There are still those who continue to believe, despite increasingly overwhelming evidence, that Anthropogenic Climate Change is garbage and that the weather is unchanged. You have to wonder when (or if) these denialists will come to their senses? When they lie gasping and dying from heat exhaustion perhaps, or a violent storm tears away all that they have worked for, or when it is far too late to alter the inevitable juggernaut of Uncontainable Climate Change. As we have a TLA (that’s three letter acronym) for Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) how about UCC for Unconstrained Climate Change? And when it really gets nasty we could add a Fully to the front and Ending in Disaster to the back giving us Fully Unconstrained Climate Change Ending in Disaster or ‘FUCCED’ for short! And that really is food for thought . . . . . .!
- Record Heat Wave Pushes U.S. Belief in Climate Change Up to 70% – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Climate Change Drives These Extreme Weather Events [chart] (treehugger.com)