The past winter season was quite strange all over the states. California was showered with rain whereas unexpected warmth was felt all over the Eastern seaside and the Midwest. In NY, sales of shovels and salt spiked and the cherry blossoms in Washington bloomed and died off too soon.
Many people associate weird weather changes today to climate change but as many people in America also are having a hard time understanding this, partly due to the decades of misinformation that our TV journalists have been giving about the disconnect between climate and weather. We have been told that weather and climate are not related, and while one is specific, the other is a general probability, leading us to believe that weather changes cannot be caused by the climate change.
However this claim wouldn’t work anymore. Recently, the nonprofit organization Climate Central released a report in The New York Times that global warming was behind the heat wave and the early onset of warm weather.
Today, having warm weather in February is as expected and likely to happen 3 times more than it was in the 1900s, revealed the organization’s World Weather Attribution Team.
The method behind the findings is called rapid attribution which works by equating observed meteorological information alongside data from climate representations. Some important findings were discovered when a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences had tried to find, through a new standardized approach, whether individual weather events are related to the global warming caused by humans.
The most important of those findings were:
In 97 percent of the observed area, the hottest day of summer and the hottest month of summer are getting hotter due to climate change caused by humans. A new record for the hottest month temperature is four times more probable now in tropical areas than it would be. That also makes tropics to be at a double risk to experience the driest year in their record.
An author of the said paper and a climate scientist at the University of California, Daniel Swain commented on the results saying that if there is a heat wave now, anywhere, it’s likely to be linked to human actions.
Such a large scale rapid attribution study was a first of its kind and the researchers remarked how it allowed them to understand the way climate change was impacting temperature from way above than ever before.
Their team stated that their goal is to show the public that the scientific circles have successfully developed tools that explain individual events. Along with that, they want to be able to provide an answer to people when they are shocked after the occurrence of an extreme event.
The method isn’t absolute perfection as according to Swain it’s still hard to point an extreme event to climate change when the event is complex, like the recent drought in California.
However, beyond the work on connecting causes to events, the study’s more permanent contribution will be operational as it developed a solid process to link weather and climate change.
To describe things in a simple way the method outlined proposed scientists to firstly recognize whether there is a core trend in the past weather data for a particular locality. At that point, they should decide how much that trend added to the extremity of any one weather incident. Lastly, they should equate that degree with two climate-model tests: if a changed climate, abundant like ours in atmospheric carbon dioxide, would yield an equally extreme trend; and whether a traditionally “normal” climate, parallel to that of 1850 or 1900, would.
However one of the limitations of the paper was that it only used one model to test if those trends were driven by climate, the Community Earth System Model from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Author Swain recognizes that they need to bring together more models in the process.
As the method needs a massive collection of data, it works only in localities where there are decades long of temperatures recorded. Thus it looks at densely populated and historically established areas like those in North America, Europe, Asia and South American coasts and does not address any recent weather trends in Africa and over much of the Oceans.
For the densely populated portions of the earth, and surely for the United States, it’s probable to visualize a world where estimations of climate-changed-ness become a part of our meteorological scene. Particularly if machine-learning algorithms carry on improving our estimation process of the outputs of a climate model.