PRESS RELEASE - HEATWAVES, DROUGHTS AND FLOODS AMONG RECENT WEATHER
EXTREMES LINKED TO CLIMATE CHANGE
New Studies Reveal Clear Ties between Today's Extremes and Human Causes
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DECEMBER 10, 2018 - Washington DC - Press Release
The U.S. Northern Plains and East Africa droughts
of 2017, floods in South America, China and Bangladesh, and heatwaves in China and the
Mediterranean were all made more likely by human
-caused climate change, according to new
research published today in the
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).
The seventh edition of the report,
Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate
also included analyses of ocean heat events, including intense marine heatwaves in
the Tasman Sea off of Australia in 2017 and 2018 that were “virtually impossible” without
caused climate change. Also included are analyses of Australian
fires and Uruguay
This is the second year that scientists have identified extreme weather events that they said could
not have happened without warming of the climate through human-induced climate change.
"These attribution studies are telling us that a warming Earth is continuing to send us new and
more extreme weather events every year," said Jeff Rosenfeld, Editor in Chief of
message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing
The report presents 17 peer-
reviewed analyses of extreme weather across six continents and two
oceans during 2017. It features the research of 120 scientists from 10 countries looking at both
historical observations and model simulations to determine whe
ther and by how much climate
change may have influenced particular extreme events.
Special Editor Martin Hoerling, a NOAA research meteorologist, said that while the
events studied in this issue spanned six continents and a calendar year, what became clear is they
are intimately connected.
"These studies confirm predictions of the 1990 First IPCC report, which foresaw that radical
departures from 20th century weather and climate would be happening now," Hoerling said.
"Scientific evidence supports increasing confidence that human activity is driving a variety of
extreme events now. These are having large economic impacts across the United States and
around the world."
Here are some findings from research on 2017's extreme weather published in this issue.
Climate change has made the chances of heatwaves in the Euro
that are at least as hot as 2017's three times more likely than they were in 1950. The
chance of such a heatwave recurring i
s now 10 percent in any given year.
Heatwaves like the record
-breaking 2017 event in central and eastern China were once
rare. They are now one-
-year events due to climate change.
Climate change made the 2017 Northern Great Plains drought 1.5 times more likely by
shifting the balance between precipitation and evapotranspiration of soil moisture.
-day pre-monsoon rainfall that inundated northeast Bangladesh was made up
to 100 percent more likely by climate change.
Climate change has made chances of the extreme rain that collapsed thousands of houses
in southeastern China in June 2017 twice as likely.
Peru's flooding rains of March 2017 were influenced by a natural cycle of warm coastal
waters, but human-
caused climate change on top of that made such extremes at least 1.5
times more likely.
Scientists found that the record sea surface temperatures in the Tasman Sea in 2017 and
2018 were virtually impossible without global warming.
Extremely warm sea surface temperatures off the coast of Africa doubled the probability
of 2017's East Africa drought, which left more than 6 million people in Somalia facing
food shortages. An analysis found the extreme ocean warmth could not have occurred in
-low Arctic sea ice due to climate change influenced record
deficits across a large part of western Europe in December 2016.
Oceanic events - from unusual hot spots to sea-ice melt - are among the cases studied this year.
The oceans participate in global warming, and there-s ample reason to believe that the reservoir
of heat in the ocean will be a significant driver of extreme events on land.
The extreme weather events studied in the seven annual issues of t
he report were selected by
researchers and do not represent a comprehensive analysis of events during that span. About 70
percent of the 146 research findings published in this series identified a substantial link between
an extreme event and climate change; about 30 percent did not.
This year the report also goes beyond publishing attribution studies assessing the role of human-
caused climate changes in extreme weather. The editors asked managers and planners in various
sectors of society to reflect on the use of attribution science in preparing for future climate risks.
Perspective essays on the importance of climate attribution science for managing water storage
systems, planning for sea level rise and assigning legal liability after extreme weather events are
These perspectives underscore the need for climate scientists to work with decision makers to
identify climate change effects on precisely defined risks that matter in high
"A decade ago, we were focused on continental-scale, months-long extremes," Rosenfeld said.
"Now researchers are often going after more local risks like heatwaves, fire danger, and floods
on scales of a few days, for pinpointed areas of extreme impacts. In barely a decade, the research
us has evolved enough to address a wider scope of societal challenges."
Read the full report
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