Weather records due to climate change: A game with loaded dice

Mar 25, 2012

The past decade has been one of unprecedented weather extremes. Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany argue that the high incidence of extremes is not merely accidental. From the many single events a pattern emerges. At least for extreme rainfall and heat waves the link with human-caused global warming is clear, the scientists show in a new analysis of scientific evidence in the journal Nature Climate Change. Less clear is the link between warming and storms, despite the observed increase in the intensity of hurricanes.

In 2011 alone, the US was hit by 14 which caused damages exceeding one billion dollars each – in several states the months of January to October were the wettest ever recorded. Japan also registered record rainfalls, while the Yangtze river basin in China suffered a record drought. Similar record-breaking events occurred also in previous years. In 2010, Western Russia experienced the hottest summer in centuries, while in Pakistan and Australia record-breaking amounts of rain fell. 2003 saw Europe´s hottest summer in at least half a millennium. And in 2002, the weather station of Zinnwald-Georgenfeld measured more rain in one day than ever before recorded anywhere in Germany – what followed was the worst flooding of the Elbe river for centuries.

"The question is whether these weather extremes are coincidental or a result of climate change," says Dim Coumou, lead author of the article. " can generally not be proven to cause individual extreme events – but in the sum of events the link to becomes clear." This is what his analysis of data and published studies shows. "It is not a question of yes or no, but a question of probabilities," Coumou explains. The recent high incidence of weather records is no longer normal, he says.

"It´s like a game with loaded dice," says Coumou. "A six can appear every now and then, and you never know when it happens. But now it appears much more often, because we have changed the dice." The past week illustrates this: between March 13th and 19th alone, historical heat records were exceeded in more than a thousand places in North America.

The scientists base their analysis on three pillars: basic physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations. Elementary physical principles already suggest that a warming of the atmosphere leads to more extremes. For example, warm air can hold more moisture until it rains out. Secondly, clear statistical trends can be found in temperature and precipitation data, the scientists explain. And thirdly, detailed computer simulations also confirm the relation between warming and records in both temperature and precipitation.

With warmer ocean temperatures, tropical storms – called typhoons or hurricanes, depending on the region – should increase in intensity but not in number, according to the current state of knowledge. In the past decade, several record-breaking storms occurred, for example hurricane Wilma in 2004. But the dependencies are complex and not yet fully understood. The observed strong increase in the intensity of tropical storms in the North Atlantic between 1980 and 2005, for example, could be caused not just by surface warming but by a cooling of the upper atmosphere. Furthermore, there are questions about the precision and reliability of historic storm data.

Overall, cold extremes decrease with global warming, the scientists found. But this does not compensate for the increase in heat extremes.

"Single are often related to regional processes, like a blocking high pressure system or natural phenomena like El Niño," says Stefan Rahmstorf, co-author of the article and chair of the Earth System Analysis department at PIK. "These are complex processes that we are investigating further. But now these processes unfold against the background of climatic warming. That can turn an extreme event into a record-breaking event."

Explore further: Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

More information: Coumou, D., Rahmstorf, S. (2012): A Decade of Weather Extremes. Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1452

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User comments : 24

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dogbert
2.6 / 5 (15) Mar 25, 2012
Just won't give up on the AGW tactics. Restating something ten thousand times does not make it any more real. People are not so gullible that they are unaware of the attempt to convince by repetition.

Voleure
3.8 / 5 (9) Mar 25, 2012
PhysOrg posts papers published from various scientific channels. Scientific papers on all topics get published at random due to the large number of research groups and each with their own timings, interests.

If in fact these various multi-year studies come independently to the same conclusions over and over, as your claiming, that would indicative of widespread consensus. One really would have to put political or financial gains far ahead of anything else to ignore this reality.

Science measures, remeasures, theorizes, tests over and over independently to gain understanding and predictability of our world. Repetition is at the heart of the process. Could it be that you have no understanding of the scientific process at all to be complaining about this repetition?
dogbert
2.2 / 5 (10) Mar 25, 2012
Voleure,
Could it be that you have no understanding of the scientific process at all to be complaining about this repetition?


And why do you use the "I don't like what you say, so I'll call you stupid" argument?

The world, with a few minor adjustments, has been warming since the ending of the last ice age. That is not disputed and 10,000 measurements won't change that. What is disputable is that this warming is somehow due to the presence on this planet of human beings.

Could it be that you have no understanding of the scientific process at all to be complaining about the formation of conclusions which are not supported by the observations?

Note that the AGW proponents no longer even try to show human activity is the cause of AGW. They just state it as if it were a fact, thinking that repetition will convince the gullible that their assertion is true.
rwinners
2.3 / 5 (4) Mar 25, 2012
I wonder if I will be alive to see this warning printed again... in 10 years.
Shootist
2.3 / 5 (9) Mar 25, 2012
Well, they are right about one thing; climate science was indeed settled 20 years ago. Not surprising when the entire science is based on an axiom: CO2 introduced into the atmosphere as a byproduct of humans using combustion as their primary energy source is causing the Temperature of the Earth to rise drastically and at in increasing rate. The effects of that temperature rise are uniformly negative and can ONLY be ameliorated by the establishment of a world government with authority over every aspect of energy production and consumption.

Other sciences, based on a never-ending loop of data collection and theorizing as to the explanation for the observed data rather than a single immutable axiom, are never settled, of course. But then other sciences are actually scientific, unlike climate science which is and always has been a political movement which uses the trappings of science and the threat of imminent catastrophe as its justification.
rwinners
3.7 / 5 (9) Mar 25, 2012
"Other sciences, based on a never-ending loop of data collection and theorizing as to the explanation for the observed data rather than a single immutable axiom, are never settled, of course. But then other sciences are actually scientific, unlike climate science which is and always has been a political movement which uses the trappings of science and the threat of imminent catastrophe as its justification."

Wow, you mean to say that all the climate scientists of all varieties have been bought off by .... who again?
gregor1
2 / 5 (8) Mar 25, 2012
"It´s like a game with loaded dice," says Coumou. "A six can appear every now and then, and you never know when it happens. But now it appears much more often, because we have changed the dice." They've changed the dice alright

"We need to get some broad based support,
to capture the public's imagination...
So we have to offer up scary scenarios,
make simplified, dramatic statements
and make little mention of any doubts...
Each of us has to decide what the right balance
is between being effective and being honest."
- Prof. Stephen Schneider,
Stanford Professor of Climatology,
lead author of many IPCC reports
rwinners
5 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2012
gregor1
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 26, 2012
This isn't science. It's blatant propaganda pre Rio 20 rwinners. google agenda21
gregor1
1 / 5 (6) Mar 26, 2012
Somehow these guys missed this http://policlimat...ropical/
Egleton
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 26, 2012
Go tell your paymasters big oil and big coal, that their propaganda ploy of saturating the blogosphere with denial is only serving to make thinking people irritated.

Your cause is lethal. If you win you lose.

The size of an Empire is dependant on it's speed of communication. World government therefore is an inevitability. Global warming has got nothing to do with this emergent phenomenon.
gregor1
1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 26, 2012
Making spurious claims to frighten people into accepting World Government is not the place of a science forum and is a total perversion of science. Your claims about "Big oil" are a complete staw man designed to draw attention away from the fact that you have no real evidence that man made CO2 is causing immanent catastrophe. The big money is behind the alarmists. The UN is after $100 billion a year, with no questions asked. They're going to have to create a lot of fear to get that without evidence.
rubberman
5 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2012
Just won't give up on the AGW tactics. Restating something ten thousand times does not make it any more real. People are not so gullible that they are unaware of the attempt to convince by repetition.

The article itself doesn't mention AGW, the pre-description of the article written by Physorg does...pay attention Fido.

The article simply names several well publicized extreme weather events of historical signifigance that have occured in the last decade, and states that this is what to expect with global warming. It is scientific observation matching what the models have predicted. If any of you in the HIA (that would be Head Inside of Asshole)crowd want to dispute the physics of why CO2 contributes to global warming, fire away. The only ties between the climate and politics are the ones we make...the reality of what is going on are the events themselves.


Moebius
4 / 5 (8) Mar 26, 2012
I predicted over 20 years ago that our activities would show up as extreme weather IF we are indeed affecting the climate with our activities. It is obvious. The weather is a relatively stable system with many kinds of feedback. To use an electronic analogy if you change the feedback to an amplifier it can become an oscillator, that is one way oscillators are created. We have changed the feedback to nature and the weather is starting to oscillate creating extreme weather. It is a simple and accurate analogy and my predictions of extreme weather have come true. If I'm right it will get worse because we are increasing the destabilizing feedback. It will be a long time before the weather systems achieve stability again. If I'm right extreme weather will continue to get worse. If the naysayers who vote this post down (as they will) are right extreme weather won't get worse and it's all a statistical blip. Time will tell.
Sean_W
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 26, 2012
From the many single events a pattern emerges.


That would be a pattern of malfeasance. If you're not familiar with the term, malfeasance is a synonym for climatology.
rubberman
5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2012
From the many single events a pattern emerges.


That would be a pattern of malfeasance. If you're not familiar with the term, malfeasance is a synonym for climatology.


So the earth is maliciously pissed at us?
gregor1
1 / 5 (4) Mar 27, 2012
An excellent rebuttal to this nonsense can be found here
http://online.wsj...news_wsj
rwinners
5 / 5 (4) Mar 27, 2012
@gregor.... In what field of Physics is the professor expert?

Anything regarding global warming contained in the WSJ is immediately suspect. Hell, anything written in the WSJ is suspect, period.

Press bias has become insane lately, on both sides.
rubberman
5 / 5 (2) Mar 27, 2012
@gregor.... In what field of Physics is the professor expert?

Anything regarding global warming contained in the WSJ is immediately suspect. Hell, anything written in the WSJ is suspect, period.

Press bias has become insane lately, on both sides.


Agreed on both counts. Linking a WSJ article denouncing climate change is like linking a Watchtower article denouncing marijuana use....the stance is dictated by the medium in which it is presented.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.4 / 5 (37) Mar 27, 2012
Telling the same denialist lie 10,000 times doesn't alter reality.

Sill you persist in doing so.

"Restating something ten thousand times does not make it any more real." - DogberTard
Vendicar_Decarian
0.4 / 5 (37) Mar 27, 2012
No it hasn't and you have been corrected on your lie at least a half dozen times by me alone.

"The world, with a few minor adjustments, has been warming since the ending of the last ice age." - DogberTard

I will correct you again... Liar.

As the following graphic shows, global temperatures have been falling since the end of the last ice age.

http://www.global..._Rev.png

Do you intend to remain a liar for the rest of your life DogBerTard?
Vendicar_Decarian
0.4 / 5 (37) Mar 27, 2012
There, I fixed it for you.

"If you're not familiar with the term, malfeasance is a synonym for conservative economics." - SeanTard
Vendicar_Decarian
0.3 / 5 (36) Mar 27, 2012
Look. If you are going to be a Tard, then say it right.

Gubderment. As in "Dats Evils Gubderments gone done and taken my muel causen's the facts that I don'e gone and hoofteder so that she's gonna come back to life and eat my pears comes ners winterz.

"Making spurious claims to frighten people into accepting World Government is not the place of a science forum and is a total perversion of science." - GregorTard
Vendicar_Decarian
0.4 / 5 (37) Mar 27, 2012

"An excellent rebuttal to this nonsense can be found here" - GregorTard

Happer is the director if the George C. Marshall Institute - one of the most dishonest denialist groups in existence.

The institute has engaged in all manner of Fraud, including impersonating the APS in it's publications.

http://www.desmog...m-happer

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