Study links extreme weather, climate change


(Rich Herrmann/Flickr)
(Rich Herrmann/Flickr)
KC McGinnis | November 5, 2015

An exhaustive collection of studies released today by the American Meteorological Society gives further evidence of a link between human-caused climate change and extreme weather events.

The studies, now in their fourth edition, analyzed global weather patterns to explain 29 extreme weather events around the world through a collaboration between 33 research groups. They found strong indicators that anthropomorphic climate change increased the likelihood of extreme weather events like droughts, winter storms and especially heat waves.

One study analyzed the Upper Midwest’s 2013-14 so-called “polar vortex,” the coldest winter since 1979, which led to economic losses of up to $4 billion. The study found that the risk of seasonal extremes like the polar vortex is actually decreasing; while an event like the winter of 2013/14 would have been a once-per-decade event in 1881, it is now a once-every-thousand-year event.

This makes Iowa one of the only regions in the study to be observed with a decrease in extreme weather events, which could have future implications for agriculture and immigration. The studies also analyzed record heat waves in Australia, drought in the Middle East and strong ocean storms and cyclones, among several other incidents.

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