Wild weather this year shows growing impact of climate change, scientists say

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In recent weeks, the world has seen ferocious wildfires in the U.S. West, torrential rains in Africa, weirdly warm temperatures on the surface of tropical...
By Matthew Green

LONDON (Reuters) - The planet is showing signs it's in peril. oceans, and record heat waves from California to the Siberian Arctic.

This spate of wild weather is consistent with climate change, scientists say, and the world can expect even more extreme weather and higher risks from natural disasters as global emissions of greenhouse gases continue.

"We are seeing the emergence of some signals that would have had almost no chance of happening without human-induced climate change," said Sonia Seneviratne, a climate scientist at Swiss university ETH Zurich.

For decades, scientists have warned of such events – but have been wary of saying that a particular storm or heat wave was a direct result of climate change. That's now changing.

Advances in a relatively new field known as "event attribution science" have enabled researchers to assess how big a role climate change might have played in a specific case.

In determining that link, scientists assess simulations of how weather systems might behave if humans had never started pumping carbon dioxide into the air, and compare that with what is happening today. They also factor in weather observations made over the last century or more.

"What seemed like an established truth that you cannot attribute a particular extreme weather event to climate change is less and less true," Seneviratne told Reuters.

FEELING THE HEAT

The clearest examples are found in the growing frequency and intensity of heat waves worldwide. [nL5N2EN5GC]

Scientists needed only days to identify climate change as the key culprit in this year's record temperatures in Siberia, with extreme heat drying out forests and peat across the Russian tundra, leading to massive wildfires.

Climate change links have also been found in the simultaneous summer heat waves that hit Europe, Japan and North America in 2018. Studies found that the chances of these events happening together would have been near zero without the industrial-era rise…
Reuters, Matthew Green
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