Every time there is a big weather event that causes widespread damage, such as a hurricane, heatwave or drought, many people will point to global warming. But there’s often a lot of disagreement about whether global warming is responsible for specific extreme events, and how much.
Despite this, climate scientists are getting better at linking specific weather events with warming on a global scale. This is called extreme-event attribution, and it’s an important step toward understanding how a changing climate can cause natural disasters.
It’s not easy to establish a direct link between a weather event and a rising average global temperature, but it’s becoming easier with each passing year. That’s because scientists can now use computer models to simulate conditions with and without a warming planet. By comparing those results, they can tell if climate change makes an event more likely or severe, or whether it made an already-severe event worse.
The science of extreme-event attribution has gotten so good, in fact, that researchers are even able to look at an entire year and determine whether climate change had any impact on each of the extreme events that occured. They can also identify trends in which extreme events are more likely to occur, such as an increase in winter snowstorms in some areas of the US.
This has led to a growing number of studies on how climate change can make an extreme event more likely or less severe. These studies often rely on statistics and climate model data that show how much a warmer world makes a given event more likely or less severe.
But this approach can be a bit of a challenge, as some extreme weather events are relatively rare, and it is difficult to identify which ones have been affected by climate change. This is why researchers are looking at a wider range of extreme weather events, including droughts and floods.
As the planet warms, it will become more likely that heavy rains will cause flooding. This is due to the extra water vapor that can fall as rain for each Celsius degree that the atmosphere gets hotter.
That can be dangerous, as it leads to more extreme weather, such as flash floods and mudslides. These are a threat to communities in urban areas and on the coast, where flooded homes can lead to devastating loss of life and economic losses.
Droughts can also be created by climate change, as it dries out soil and plants. This can also result in more intense wildfires and ecological destruction, as well as more severe storms.
In addition, the amount of precipitation that can fall as rain can also rise, causing more flooding. It’s not just the actual precipitation itself that can be affected, but how it falls, where it falls and when it comes down.
This phenomenon, called “weather whiplash,” can happen anywhere in the world. And it’s becoming more and more common in many regions of the world, as the global climate warms. This is caused by a combination of factors, such as increased water vapor and evaporation.