Climate Change and Extreme Summer Weather Events – The Future is still in Our Hands

Summer 2018 saw an unprecedented spate of extreme weather events, from the floods in Japan, to the record heat waves across North America, Europe and Asia, to wildfires that threatened Greece and even parts of the Arctic. The heat and drought in the western U.S. culminated in the worst California wildfire on record. This is the face of climate change, I commented at the time. Some of the connections with climate change here are pretty straightforward. One of the simplest relationships in all of atmospheric science tells us that the atmosphere holds exponentially more moisture as temperatures increase. Increased moisture means potentially for greater amounts of

Musing about Losing Earth

The NY Times Magazine has a special issue this weekend on climate change. The main article is “Losing the Earth” by Nathaniel Rich, is premised on the idea that in the period 1979 to 1989 when we basically knew everything we needed to know that climate change was a risk, and the politics had not yet been polarized, we missed our opportunity to act. Stated this way, it would probably

Why extremes are expected to change with a global warming

Joanna Walters links extreme weather events with climate change in a recent article in the Guardian, however, some reservations have been expressed about such links in past discussions. For example, we discussed the connection between single storms and global warming in the post Hurricanes and Global Warming – Is there a connection?,

What do you need to know about climate?

What do you need to know about climate in order to be in the best position do adapt to future change? This question was discussed in a European workshop on Copernicus climate services during a heatwave in Barcelona, Spain (June 12-14). The answer is not clear-cut, even after having some information about user requirements from a survey to identify a direction for data evaluation for climate models (DECM). The survey is still carried out. Some of the key issues

Nenana Ice Classic 2017

As I’ve done for a few years, here is the updated graph for the Nenana Ice Classic competition, which tracks the break up of ice on the Tanana River near Nenana in Alaska. It is now a 101-year time series tracking the winter/spring conditions in that part of Alaska, and shows clearly the long term trend towards earlier break up, and overall warming. 2017 was almost exactly on trend – roughly one week earlier than the average break up date a century ago. There was a short NPR piece on the significance again this week, but most of the commentary from last

New report: Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016

Another climate report is out – what’s new? Many of the previous reports have presented updated status on the climate and familiar topics such as temperature, precipitation, ice, snow, wind, and storm activities. The latest report Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016 from the European Environment Agency (EEA) also includes an assessment of hail, a weather phenomenon that is often associated with lightening (a previous report from EASAC from 2013 also covers hail). Usually, there has not been a lot of information about hail, but that is improving. Still, the jury is still out when it comes to hail and climate change: Despite improvements in data availability, trends and projections of hail events are still uncertain. EEA 2016 report

Millennia of sea-level change

How has global sea level changed in the past millennia? And how will it change in this century and in the coming millennia? What part do humans play? Several new papers provide new insights. 2500 years of past sea level variations This week, a paper will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) with the first global statistical analysis of numerous individual studies of the history of sea level over the last 2500 years (Kopp et al. 2016 – I am one of the authors). Such data on past sea

What drives uncertainties in adapting to sea-level rise?

Guest article by Sally Brown, University of Southampton Let me get this off my chest – I sometimes get frustrated at climate scientists as they love to talk about uncertainties! To be sure, their work thrives on it. I’m someone who researches the projected impacts and adaptation to sea-level