Across the world, climate events are getting more extreme. And while there’s little doubt that climate change is to blame, proving that fault for specific weather events hasn’t really been possible… until now.
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An emerging field called extreme-event attribution is helping us measure and verify the relationship between the climate crisis and extreme weather. Not only does this have huge implications for predicting and modeling our planet’s future, but it could also help us better prepare for living in an increasingly extreme world.
When we talk about the impacts of the climate crisis, we’re really talking about distinguishing the influence of natural factors from anthropogenic factors on Earth’s climate cycle. Basically, this means teasing apart Earth’s natural climate cycles from human-caused climate change. A way to begin doing this is to examine the “fingerprints” we humans have left behind on Earth’s climate.
By matching both the observed and modeled patterns of Earth’s climate, scientists can positively identify the “fingerprints” associated with these changes. Following the tracks of these fingerprints has helped scientists link climate change with more general trends, like rising sea levels and global temperatures.
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The Decade of Attribution Science
"Just as medical researchers can study how smoking cigarettes changes people’s risk of lung cancer by comparing data from smokers and nonsmokers, attribution scientists compare events on our planet with those on a hypothetical “Planet B,” one that is untouched by greenhouse gas emissions."
Scientists Can Now Blame Individual Natural Disasters on Climate Change
"It was January 2003, and as Allen—a climate expert at the University of Oxford—monitored the rising waters from the safety of his house, a voice on the radio was telling him that it couldn’t be done. Sure, the flood was the type of event likely to be made more frequent by global warming, the representative of the United Kingdom’s Met Office said on the show. But ascertaining anything more concrete was out of reach."
Mapped: How climate change affects extreme weather around the world
"Use the filters below to explore the studies."
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