Fires, heat waves, and hurricanes: why this summer's extreme weather is here to stay

Thursday, 14 September 2017, 04:27:57 AM. ‘At some point, our luck will run out.’
This summer, the US has had several record-smashing natural disasters: over 110 large fires are burning throughout the country, especially in the West; California recently had a deadly heat wave that set all-time heat records in several towns, including San Francisco; and after Hurricane Harvey brought unprecedented raining and flooding to Texas, Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean and Florida — the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean outside of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Although it’s impossible to attribute any one of these single events to climate change, the signals are clear, scientists say. (That kind of attribution may be possible with certain kinds of modeling studies; those studies have not yet been conducted.) These extreme weather events are very consistent with what climate change is expected to bring in the years ahead: global weirding. Extreme weather events become more extreme, and climate change is “‘loading the dice’ toward more extreme floods, heat waves, droughts and hurricanes,” says Michael Mann, a climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, in an email to The Verge. “We shouldn’t be surprised we’re turning up snake eyes so often now.” Mann’s not alone in thinking this summer has the shape of things to come. “This is going to be the future,” says David Titley, a meteorologist and director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State. The future...Read more
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