Recorded extraordinary extreme weather events
Other online resources
For many years climate assessments have predicted that global warming (IPCC 2001) will increase extreme weather events. Now we know they are increasing (IPCC special report 2012)
The heat waves droughts and fires are increasing dramatically but so are extreme precipitation events. All of these are damaging to crops and to agricultural land increasing soil erosion.
This short video from Climate Central explains extreme weather 101.
Extreme weather events is a 'reason for concern' category under IPCC assessments.
This extreme weather category is the main cause of damage to human habitations, human health and crops making it priority one for global climate change.
For labor-intensive agriculture extreme weather is doubly damaging to food production.
However till recently science would not confirm that global warming was already driving increases.
As of 2012-2013 several papers have determined that extreme weather is now increasing and driven by global warming. A 2011 article series by Scientific American (Storm Warnings: Extreme Weather Is a Product of Climate Change) reported on scientists who were making the link.
A 2012 PNAS paper by James Hansen showed that global warming is driving an increase in extreme heat; "an important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period. This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth’s surface during the base period, now typically covers about 10% of the land area. It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming."
A decade of weather extremes, by Dim Coumou & Stefan Rahmstorf was published in Nature March 2012;
"Here, we review the evidence and argue that for some types of extreme — notably heatwaves, but also precipitation extremes — there is now strong evidence linking specific events or an increase in their numbers to the human influence on climate. For other types of extreme, such as storms, the available evidence is less conclusive, but based on observed trends and basic physical concepts it is nevertheless plausible to expect an increase."
New Report Tracks Decades of Climate Extremes, by Brooke Jarvis, published in The Rolling Stone, July 10th, 2013,
does a clear and cogent job of summarizing recent extreme weather events while reviewing a report from the World Meteorological Organization, which focused on contextualizing these recorded extremes
(The article also contains a link to a fun summary entitled The 10 Dumbest Things Ever Said About Climate Change). The extremes Jarvis cites as evidence include the following:
o Nine of the ten hottest years on record occurred in a single decade, 2001 to 2010. For over nine out of every ten nations reporting such data, that decade was their hottest on record.
o 2003 saw Europe's worst heat wave in six centuries.
o The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season broke several major records, including the most named storms, the most hurricanes, the most Category 5 hurricanes, and the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record. Three out of the six strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record formed in this one year.
o May 2010, the highest temperature ever recorded in Asia occurred in Pakistan, more than 128 degrees, Fahrenheit, which is 53.3 degrees, Celsius.
o Later 2010, in the summer, unusually extreme monsoon rains flooded more than a fifth of Pakistan and in Russia tens of thousands of people died from a combination of wildfire smoke and what Russian authorities described as the worst heat wave in a thousand years.
o Globally, 2010 was the wettest year on record, despite a number of severe regional droughts.
As reported in the Washington Post, Typhoon Wipha dropped 33 inches, or 85 centimeters, of rain on Oshimo Island, in Japan, on October 16th, 2013. An incredible 17 of those inches, or 42.6 centimeters, fell in just four hours. The rain caused landslides and flooding and killed at least sixteen people on Oshimo alone, in addition to other, less severe, impacts of the same storm in other parts of Japan. While this rainfall does not constitute a world record, it is highly unusual for Oshimo; in just one day, the island received twice its average precipitation for all of October. A typhoon is the same thing as a hurricane; different terms are used for the same type of storm in different ocean basins.
New South Wales, Australia, saw intense and destructive wildfires in October of 2013 after their warmest twelve months on record, including an extreme heatwave, plus fires and floods, the previous summer, as reported on the website of ABC News.
"The last decade has
produced record-breaking heat waves in many parts of the world. At the same
time, it was globally the warmest since sufficient measurements started in the
19th century. Here we show that, worldwide, the number of local record-breaking
monthly temperature extremes is now on average five times larger than expected
in a climate with no long-term warming. This implies that on average there is an
80 % chance that a new monthly heat record is due to climatic change."
Extremely Bad Weather Science News J Raloff 2012
Increase in extreme weather in a warming world Stefan Rahmstorf and
Global warming has increased monthly heat records by a factor of five
Potsdam Climate Impacts Institute 2013
We are well aware of US heat and drought damage to food production since 2012, but global warming also increases floods, which are also damaging to food production. Global warming can cause increased drought and increased floods in the same region. NOAA reports US billion dollar weather disasters. In 2012, there were 11 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. This makes 2012 the 2nd costliest year on record. 2005 was the most costly year since 1980 with $160 billion (in 2005 dollars) and 2005 was a record global temperature year.
Climate change increased weather extremes are already killing hundreds of thousands of people according to the 2009 Human Impact Report and the 2012 DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor that estimated 400,000 people are being killed a year.
Millions of people are being made homeless by climate change-increased weather extremes, as estimated by the 2012 report of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, Global Estimates 2012: People Displaced by Disasters (13 May 2013).
The Global Estimates report reveals that 32.4 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2012 by disasters such as floods, storms and earthquakes. 98% of all displacement in 2012 was due to climate- and weather-related events, with flood disasters in India and Nigeria accounting for 41% of global displacement in 2012.
The Global Climate 2001 – 2010 A Decade of Climate Extremes WMO 2013
"The period 2001–2010 was the warmest decade recorded since 1850.
The global average temperature of the air above the Earth’s surface ...is 0.88°C higher than the average temperature of the first decade of the 20th century (1901–1910). A pronounced increase in the global temperature occurred over the four decades 1971–2010. Furthermore, the increase of 0.21°C in the average decadal temperature from 1991–2000 to 2001–2010 is larger than the increase from 1981–1990 to 1991–2000 (+0.14°C) and larger than for any other two successive decades. The warmest worldwide land-only surface-air temperature was 2007, with a temperature anomaly of +0.95°C. Many geographically large countries and regions saw decadal temperature anomalies over 2001–2010 that exceeded +1°C relative to the long-term average of 1961–1990. Much of Asia saw anomalies exceeding +1°C over the decade....Climate scientists ... increasingly conclude that many recent events would have occurred in a different way – or would not have occurred at all – in the absence of climate change. For example, the likelihood of the 2003 European heatwave occurring was probably substantially increased by rising global temperatures."
A 2013 study led by D Comou finds that "worldwide, the number of local record-breaking monthly temperature extremes is now on average five times larger. This implies that on average there is an 80 % chance that a new monthly heat record is due to climatic change.Summertime records, which are associated with prolonged heat waves, increased by more than a factor of ten in some continental regions including parts of Europe, Africa, southern Asia and Amazonia
July 2014 Siberia wild fires under record heat Record Arctic heat
Argentina severe drought Feb 2014, and worst drought in 100 years
Feb 2014 Guardian Singapore suffers its longest dry spell on record, while Malaysian cabinet mulls whether to declare a national emergency
As of January, 2014, California was drier than it has been for close to 500 years as a persistent blocking high continues to divert rainfall. Serious wildfires rage in what is supposed to be California's wet season. Besides California, 10 other states were declared Federal emergencies due to drought. Both California and Alaska set several new heat records through the 2013/2014 winter. The same blocking high, likely caused by melting of the polar ice cap, is responsible for the weakening of the polar vortex that froze the American East. Scientists predicted a decade earlier that this kind of block would happen due to global warming.
Jan 2014 BBC Met Office: Evidence 'suggests climate change link to storms'. More than 130 severe flood warnings - indicating a threat to life - have been issued since December 2013.
More than 5,000 properties have been flooded over this period.;
Climate change also may play a role in the flooding of an area of Senegal called St. Louis, a former colonial capital at the mouth of the Senegal river. More frequent heavy rains raise the river while a poorly designed channel cut in a barrier peninsula allows in ocean currents that eat away at the land and have already destroyed one village. Climate change increases flooding and raises the sea level, exacerbating the problem.
Mar 2014 WMO report on 2013 extreme weather The dramatic impact of climate variability and climate change continued to be felt all over the world throughout 2013. many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change. We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise. The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths.
-Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall, devastated parts of the central Philippines.
-Surface air temperatures over land in the Southern Hemisphere were very warm, with widespread heat waves; Australia saw record warmth for the year, and Argentina its second warmest year and New - Zealand its third warmest.
-Frigid polar air plummeted into parts of Europe and the southeast United States.
-Angola, Botswana and Namibia were gripped by severe drought.
-Heavy monsoon rains led to severe floods on the India-Nepal border.
-Heavy rains and floods impacted northeast China and the eastern Russian Federation.
-Heavy rains and floods affected Sudan and Somalia.
-Major drought affected southern China.
-Northeastern Brazil experienced its worst drought in the past 50 years.
-The widest tornado ever observed struck El Reno, Oklahoma in the United States.
-Extreme precipitation led to severe floods in Europe’s Alpine region and in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland.
-Israel, Jordan, and Syria were struck by unprecedented snowfall.
-Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached record highs.
-The global oceans reached new record high sea levels.
-The Antarctic sea ice extent reached a record daily maximum.
WMO 2013 weather extremes
CLIMATE EMERGENCY INSTITUTE
The health and human rights approach to climate change
WMO 2014 ATLAS OF MORTALITY AND ECONOMIC LOSSES FROM WEATHER,
CLIMATE AND WATER EXTREMES (1970–2012). From 1970 to 2012 (42 yrs) 8835 weather-, climate and water-related disasters were reported globally. Together they caused the loss of1.94 million lives and economic damages of US$ 2.4 trillion.