How does climate change affect weather conditions? Well, let’s just say Storm Eunice may have been a bit kinder to us if it weren’t for the climate crisis…
The recent storm – Eunice – that hit parts of the UK with gusts of up to 110 mph have stirred up the question – are these freak weather conditions caused by climate change?
Well. The answer to this is obvious – Yes.
We have plenty of studies backed by scientific research that shows the influence of climate change on weather conditions. So in this article, we’re going to look at the two parameters – climate change and extreme weather conditions – and see how they interlink with each other.
To ensure there isn’t any confusion around what we’re going to discuss here, note that the term “climate change” mainly refers to the heating of the Earth’s surface. More commonly known as ‘Global Warming’.
Global warming is caused by the release of Greenhouse Gases(GHG) into the atmosphere.
The field of study that aims to find a correlation or the attribution of climate change to weather conditions is called Extreme Event Attribution or Attribution Science and is a relatively new field in meteorology and climate science. The term Attribution Science was first mentioned in the report “State of the Climate” published in 2011 by the American Meteorology Society. This report highlighted several studies where an interrelation between Climate Change and the six extreme Weather Conditions were found.
Now, do note another important thing here – attribution doesn’t mean reason. We’re not saying that climate change is the cause of extreme weather conditions.
Instead, when we talk about attribution, it’s about finding out if the likelihood or say the magnitude of an event happened is different from what it would be in a world if there was no climate change.
With the above in mind, lets summarise the findings of an article published by Carbonbrief. They collected 357 individual scientific papers and rapid studies to answer the question- how does climate change affect weather conditions?
Kudos to Carbon Brief! They have mapped 405 extreme weather events out of these 357 studies, with some studies carrying more than one weather event, to their correlation results to let us know whether those events have been influenced by human-caused climate change or not.
To give you an insight to their findings, 70% of the 405 extreme weather events were found to be more severe due to climate change. The events were recorded for the past 20 years and the most of the studies constituted Extreme Heat, Rainfall/Flooding and Drought, making up to 2/3rd of the total published references.
Now, let’s break down the findings for some of the individual weather events viz. Heatwaves, Flooding, Drought, Storms and Wildfire.
So there were 132 attribution studies dedicated to the event of Heatwaves. 122 out of these 132, implying 92% study papers – that’s a big number – suggested that there’s a direct link, means making it more severe, from climate change to Heat Waves around the globe. No studies have shown Heatwaves becoming less severe due to climate impact. 2 studies implying 2% identified no influence and 8 studies or 6% were Inconclusive.
There were 81 studies related to flooding or extreme rainfall. Out of these, 47 studies aka 58% out of the total suggested that human activities made flooding/rainfall more likely or more severe. 9 studies or 11% studies hinted that climate change had made the rainfall event less likely to happen, 15 or 19% papers found no evidence of a correlation between the parameters of our interest and the remaining 10(12%) studies were inconclusive.
Out of 69 studies talking about Drought, 65% of them claimed climate change had increased the severity of the event occurring while 1% showed a decrease. 14% studies were inconclusive and 19% of the total found no relation between the parameters of our concern.
33 reference studies are related to Storms. 70% of the total, means 23 papers found that climate change had made such an event more likely or more severe. Just 1 paper or 3% told us climate change made the event less severe or less likely to occur. 4 papers aka 12% were inconclusive and the remaining 5 or 15% studies found no human influence whatsoever.
References citing correlation: Typhoon translation speeds in mid-latitudes in September, 1980-2019, US hurricane damages, 1900-2018
15 studies are of Wildfire in total. Out of these, 14 studies or 93% indicated that climate impact is responsible for making a weather event more likely or severe to occur. And 1 or 7% stands with inconclusive results.
So now we have plenty of evidence that human activity induced climate change is raising the risk of some types of extreme weather. Especially those related to heat. This means we need to be more cautious than ever about activities that may result in a negative impact on our environment and climate.
We know that GHG released into the atmosphere is the culprit behind global warming and thus extreme weather conditions. So we need to work upon measures to reduce these GHGs released into the atmosphere. We call this reducing the carbon footprint – a term used to denote the amount of GHG emissions released into the atmosphere due to our activities.
We at One Tribe help businesses to improve their carbon footprint by offsetting their emissions through carbon sequestration projects. When you purchase any product from our One Tribe partner store, the store generates a micro-donation which is transferred to our forest conservation partners.
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