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Past decade's extreme weather is manmade, new study suggests

Extreme rainfall and heatwaves over the past decade have been linked to global warming in a new Nature Climate Change study. The relationship between storms and warming is less clear.

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Bicyclist trudging past a stranded taxi on a New York City street flooded by the Tropical Storm Irene. The link between global warming and such storms was studied in the recent Nature: Climate Change paper.



AP/Peter Morgan

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Extreme weather events over the past decade have increased and were "very likely" caused by manmade global warming, a study in the journal Nature Climate Change said on Sunday.

Scientists at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Research used physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations to link extreme rainfall and heat waves to global warming. The link between warming and storms was less clear.

"It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming," said the study.

The past decade was probably the warmest globally for at least a millennium. Last year was the eleventh hottest on record, the World Meteorological Organisation said on Friday.

Extreme weather events were devastating in their impacts and affected nearly all regions of the globe.

They included severe floods and record hot summers in Europe; a record number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic in 2005; the hottest Russian summer since 1500 in 2010 and the worst flooding in Pakistan's history.

Last year alone, the United States suffered 14 weather events which caused losses of over $1 billion each.

The high amount of extremes is not normal, the study said.

Even between March 13 and 19 this year, historical heat records were exceeded in more than 1,000 places in North America.

For some types of extreme weather, there are physical reasons why they would increase in a warming climate. For example, if average temperature rises, then so will the number of heat records if all else remains equal, the study said.

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