Recent studies have officially linked a variety of extreme weather disparities to climate change. According to a report in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, nine of 2013’s 16 key weather abnormalities were in direct relation to shifts caused by long term human activity. This is arguably the most definitive assessment of direct weather effects climate scientists have made.
The most absolute circumstance explored in the report was Australia’s ruthless heat wave. Five individual groups of researchers studied the trends in the country last year. All concluded the abnormal heat was a direct result of long term climate shifts.
“We can say that this was virtually impossible without climate change,” said climate scientist from the University of Melbourne, David Karoly.
The 2013 heat wave was so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology added a completely new color to the top of its charts. The heat, which often scorched Australia at 111 degrees Fahrenheit, led to the country’s harshest recorded drought and devastating wildfires.
In that same year, the severity of heat waves and/or droughts in New Zealand, China, Korea, Japan and Western Europe could all be attributed to climate change, according to the report.
The California droughts were also explored, though the results were not definitive. The state, which has endured its driest year on record, was studied by three separate teams of climate scientists. One study, conducted by a group from Stanford University, found human activity was responsible. The other two were inconclusive. All agreed, however, that climate change intensified the drought.
Abnormally heavy rains across the Midwest were confirmed as products of manmade climate change, according to the report. These rains caused flooding in the region, delayed plantation of crops and at one point halted shipment down the Mississippi River.
On the other hand, two 2013 weather abnormalities were deemed less likely to occur under the effects of climate change. Research concluded the U.K.’s cold spring and Colorado’s heavy rains weren’t in congruence with expected trends. In Colorado’s case, there was limited data and scientists say further study is necessary.
– Ellie Sennett
Sources: NY Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, The American Meteorological Society