Half-a-degree of warming boosted extreme weather

June 30, 2017

climate
Credit: public domain
Half a degree Celsius of global warming has been enough to increase heat waves and heavy rains in many regions of the planet, researchers reported Friday.

Comparing two 20-year periods—1960-79 and 1991-2010—between which average jumped 0.5 C (0.9 F), scientists found that several kinds of extreme weather gained in duration and intensity.

The hottest summer temperatures increased by more than 1 C (1.8 F) across a quarter of Earth's , while the coldest winter temperatures warmed by more then 2.5 C (4.5 F).

The intensity of extreme precipitation grew nearly 10 percent across a quarter of all land masses, and the duration of hot spells—which can fuel devastating forest fires—lengthened by a week in half of land areas.

These changes were well outside the bounds of natural variability, according to the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

"We have to rely on climate models to predict the future," said lead author Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research.

"But given that we now have observational evidence of around 1 C warming, we can also look at the real-life impacts this warming has brought," he said in a statement.

In science, observed trends are generally seen as more reliable than projections, which can vary sharply depending on the assumptions made.

Changes in climate—sometimes defined as "average weather"—can only be detected across time periods measured in decades or longer.

0.5 C does matter

Global warming caused mostly by the burning of fossil fuels began slowly in the early 19th century with the onset of industrialisation, but has accelerated rapidly over the last 50 or 60 years.

The 196-nation Paris Agreement, inked in the French capital in 2015, vowed to cap the rise of the planet's average surface temperature at "well under" 2 C (3.6 F), and to "pursue efforts" to block it at 1.5 C (2.7 C).

To inform that effort, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the UN's top science advisory group—will issue a report for policy makers in September 2018 on the feasibility of the 1.5 C target, and what impacts might be avoided if it is met.

The new study—one of thousands that will be reviewed by the IPCC—suggests even a half degree rise is significant.

"With the warming the world has already experienced, we can see very clearly that a difference of 0.5 C really does matter," said co-author Erich Fischer, a scientist at ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

Earlier research based on computer models, also led by Schleussner, concluded that 2 C of would—compared to 1.5 C—double the severity of crop failures, water shortages and heatwaves in many regions of the world.

It also found that holding the rise in temperature to 1.5 C would give coral reefs—the cornerstone of ecosystems that sustain half-a-billion people and a quarter of marine wildlife—a fighting chance of adapting to warmer and more acidic seas.

An extra half-a-degree on top, however, would expose most reefs to possible extinction by century's end.

Explore further: Half-a-degree makes a huge difference

More information: Carl-Friedrich Schleussner et al. In the observational record half a degree matters, Nature Climate Change (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3320

Related Stories

Half-a-degree makes a huge difference

April 21, 2016

A jump in global temperature of two degrees Celsius would double the severity of crop failures, water shortages and heatwaves in many regions compared to a rise of 1.5 C, according to a study released Thursday.

Recommended for you

Evidence of earliest life on Earth disputed

October 17, 2018

When Australian scientists presented evidence in 2016 of life on Earth 3.7 billon years ago—pushing the record back 220 million years—it was a big deal, influencing even the search for life on Mars.

Arctic greening thaws permafrost, boosts runoff

October 17, 2018

A new collaborative study has investigated Arctic shrub-snow interactions to obtain a better understanding of the far north's tundra and vast permafrost system. Incorporating extensive in situ observations, Los Alamos National ...

Arctic ice sets speed limit for major ocean current

October 17, 2018

The Beaufort Gyre is an enormous, 600-mile-wide pool of swirling cold, fresh water in the Arctic Ocean, just north of Alaska and Canada. In the winter, this current is covered by a thick cap of ice. Each summer, as the ice ...

34 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rrrander
1.6 / 5 (13) Jun 30, 2017
Like how Katrina was the harbinger of storms increasing in number and severity. Oh wait; that didn't happen. You know, if you cool the planet to -375 or so, there won't be any weather.
LochBhein
2.1 / 5 (14) Jun 30, 2017
Rubbish. How can a bunch of so-called 'scientists' making 'measurements' and writing down so-called 'numbers' possibly show a 'link' between two so-called 'events'?
Davy_Crockett
3.3 / 5 (12) Jun 30, 2017
It's going to become obvious to people who last studied science when they were 15 years old, by the early 2030's LochBhein. The effects will ramp up significantly every decade after that and won't have a chance to stabilize until human output of GHG's fall below the threshold that Earth is able to absorb and metabolize. Then it will take hundreds of years to stabilize at a new higher energy state. We need to reduce our output by about 2/3rds to stop the changes and the time lag after we cut back will be many generations. Scientists who are presenting their conclusions are doing so with kid gloves LochBhein. They are not trying to alarm us. They are saying meekly that weather is going to become very hard on us even after we make modest changes to our energy life-style.
JamesG
2.3 / 5 (12) Jun 30, 2017
There hasn't been a severe hurricane hit the US in over a decade. I don't see any unusually severe weather. We've had horrible droughts before. We've had record high temps before. None of what they say adds up and the horrible numbers they show are 100ths of a degree. Scientists are not being totally honest with us and they have been to close to left wing political organizations which ruins their credibility to the rest of us. That's why there are deniers.
Caliban
3.8 / 5 (13) Jun 30, 2017
There hasn't been a severe hurricane hit the US in over a decade. I don't see any unusually severe weather. We've had horrible droughts before. We've had record high temps before. None of what they say adds up and the horrible numbers they show are 100ths of a degree. Scientists are not being totally honest with us and they have been to close to left wing political organizations which ruins their credibility to the rest of us. That's why there are deniers.


I suppose, Jimmy, that you have conveniently "forgotten" Hurricane Sandy --so here's a quick overview of the storm from 2012- less than five years ago:

https://en.wikipe...ne_Sandy

You irrefutably label yourself, from this day forward, as a mindless, biased, and Willfully Disunderstanding Denierside ideologue.

If you have no respect for The Facts, then don't expect to be treated with any respect when making idiotic statements like those above on a science site.
Porgie
2.7 / 5 (12) Jun 30, 2017
This is the usual data based on lies deceit and left wing desperation. When you ask different countries to change where they are reading their global temperature because its showing decrease after 30 years of increase. Ask Japan. This is left wing garbage.
philstacy9
2 / 5 (4) Jun 30, 2017
Political opinions make a huge difference in climate research causing extreme conclusions.
If the climate predictive models work then predict stock prices as a demonstration.
Parsec
3.9 / 5 (11) Jun 30, 2017
There hasn't been a severe hurricane hit the US in over a decade. I don't see any unusually severe weather. We've had horrible droughts before. We've had record high temps before. None of what they say adds up and the horrible numbers they show are 100ths of a degree. Scientists are not being totally honest with us and they have been to close to left wing political organizations which ruins their credibility to the rest of us. That's why there are deniers.


You cannot evade the worldwide statistics. Extreme events are on the rise. If you disagree, do the math, collect the data, and have a paper showing your results published in a peer reviewed journal, then get back to us.
unrealone1
2.3 / 5 (9) Jul 01, 2017
The Dust Bowls of the 1930's. It's worse now is it?
Jurassic period had how many storms?
Roman warm period was warmer than today.
antigoracle
2.1 / 5 (11) Jul 01, 2017
AGW Cult has to rely on their flawed computer models to propagate their pathological lies disguised as science.
The 1930's saw the hottest temperatures and most extreme weather. Was manmade CO2 responsible for that?
rrrander
2.1 / 5 (7) Jul 02, 2017
Do you know that envirokook predictions in 50 years have been even less accurate than if someone had just guessed? That's right. Just guessing produces about 20% right answers in most situations. Envirokooks have been nearly 100% wrong. It's a mathematical oddity. Much like they are oddities.
PTTG
4.3 / 5 (6) Jul 02, 2017
The FUD crowd is here. They know they don't need to convince anyone, just make noise enough that the people with the least information become fearful, uncertain, or doubtful. The cure remains the same: scientific evidence.

Keep educating people and the trolls starve.
zinger
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Caliban
3.3 / 5 (7) Jul 02, 2017
Yo, creve-

It must have taken you, like, a mad long time to cut'n'paste all those stories, huh?

Do us all a favor, pal, and grab a handful of Venus long, hairy tail and take a trip right out of here.

No need to hurry to make the return trip.
omegatalon
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 02, 2017
Despite all of the so called experts saying the planet is getting warmer, NASA recently said their research suggests that there will be MORE rain; https://www.nasa....expected
Chris_Reeve
Jul 02, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Benni
1 / 5 (5) Jul 02, 2017
Climate change proponents don't even know the history of the idea's true first test - clearly because the results didn't confirm their narrative. All they can do is insult the people who tell the story.

What a waste of everybody's time.


No, no, no, no, CR........it isn't a waste of time. Let them keep making the mistakes so we can learn from the mistakes they keep making, after all, we can't live long enough to make all of them ourselves.

You see, as we watch them blow it everytime they make another prognostication, all of us learn something, what we learn is that person is not a prophet, therefore we know who not to follow, eg. Al Gore.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Jul 03, 2017
Despite all of the so called experts saying the planet is getting warmer, NASA recently said their research suggests that there will be MORE rain;

Did you even read the link you posted? NASA also says the planet is getting warmer. This is not contradicted by increased rainfall.

From the very link you posted:
Rainfall warming the air also sounds counterintuitive -- people are used to rain cooling the air around them, not warming it. Several miles up in the atmosphere, however, a different process prevails. When water evaporates into water vapor here on Earth's surface and rises into the atmosphere, it carries with it the heat energy that made it evaporate. In the cold upper atmosphere, when the water vapor condenses into liquid droplets or ice particles, it releases its heat and warms the atmosphere.


Jeez. It's becoming a habit with the shills to post stuff that contradicts their own claims. Talk about an easy takedown.
mtnphot
5 / 5 (2) Jul 03, 2017
Despite all of the so called experts saying the planet is getting warmer, NASA recently said their research suggests that there will be MORE rain; https://www.nasa....expected

I guess you were not aware that warmer air holds more water and you always get more rain from a tropical stream than one from the arctic. Consider yourself informed.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 03, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Chris_Reeve
Jul 03, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.