Global Warming Has Increased the Odds of Weather Extremes, Research Shows

global warming

Global warming is responsible for three-fourths of the world’s unusually hot days, according to new research. Although the scientific community already knows a great deal about the adverse effects of global warming, recent findings contain some surprising revelations.

New data shows that there has been a quadruple increase in certain heat extremes since the industrial revolution as a result of human emissions. The frequency of intense rainstorms has been driven up by 22 percent since the 19th century.

Furthermore, scientists have warned that a failure to bring greenhouse gases and high-level emissions under control may lead to the doubling of heavy rains and an astonishing 62-fold increase in heat extremes.

The study, conducted by Dr. Erich M. Fischer and Reto Knutti of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, was published in the journal Nature Climate Change. It is not the first one to attribute large-scale changes in extreme weather to human influence on the climate, however, it is the first to forecast on a global scale how those extremes might change with continued global warming.

Fischer and Knutti studied common heat and precipitation extremes and used computer analyses of what the climate would be like if the Industrial Revolution had never happened. Through these techniques, they assessed the sort of weather extremes that would be likely to occur in any given location on the earth about once in 1,000 days, or a little less than three years.

Global temperatures have increased by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the industrialization.

“People can argue that we had these kinds of extremes well before human influence on the climate — we had them centuries ago,” said Fischer. “And that’s correct. But the odds have changed, and we get more of them.”

Myles R. Allen, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the new paper, said in an interview that “the method they use to add up risk on a global scale is spot on.”

While previous research focused on particular disasters like the European heat wave, the new approach does a better job of capturing the influence of greenhouse gases on more common types of weather extremes.

“We keep asking people to do something about climate change,” Dr. Allen said. “They deserve to know what climate change is doing to them.”

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About the author

Kristin covers health, science and internet news.