Is There a Strong Link between Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change? - Scientific American
Scientists are detecting a stronger link between the planet's warming and its changing weather patterns. Though it can be hard to pinpoint whether climate. Pinning down blame for complex weather events isn't straightforward. But cutting- edge science is rapidly shrinking the space to argue that the crazy weather. Scientists study many aspects of change in extreme weather and climate events.
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Does Climate Change Cause Extreme Weather Events? | Science | Smithsonian
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A buildup of snow can collapse roofs, knock down trees and power lines, and cause flooding when it melts. If the temperature is still below freezing, this moisture-laden air can produce more intense precipitation in the form of unusually heavy snow, sleet, and freezing rain events, even in years when total snowfall is lower than average. Winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity since the s, and their tracks have shifted northward over the United States.
It is likely that the frequency and intensity of extreme winter precipitation events will increase in some areas of the United States, particularly in the northern states. Scientists have medium confidence  that winter storms have increased slightly in frequency and intensity.
Hurricanes Why does it matter? Powerful hurricanes that make landfall can cause significant numbers of deaths and injuries, and disrupt or displace communities. When combined with coastal waters made higher by sea level rise, strong winds can create damaging storm surges.
Understanding the Link Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather
Hurricanes are also among the most costly extreme weather events, with severe storms causing billions of dollars in economic losses. Increases in hurricane activity are linked to warming ocean temperatures because hurricanes draw more energy from warmer water. But the link between ocean temperature and hurricanes is complex, and other factors can also play a role in the formation and intensity of these storms.
There has been an increase in the intensity, frequency, and duration of hurricanes and in the number of strong Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the North Atlantic Ocean since the early s. The intensity of the strongest hurricanes is projected to continue to increase as the oceans continue to warm, bringing stronger winds and heavier rains.
Extreme Weather | National Climate Assessment
Whether changes in hurricane frequency or landfall will occur is less certain. Scientists have medium confidence  that hurricane intensity and associated heavy rainfall will continue to increase under a changing climate, but significant uncertainties remain.
Tornadoes Why does it matter? Strong tornadoes can cause deaths and injuries, disrupt or displace communities, and inflict severe damage to crops, trees, buildings, and infrastructure.
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A warming climate can lead to stronger and more frequent thunderstorms, and these storms can spur tornadoes. Although the number of tornado reports has increased with better observation practices, there has been little change in the frequency of the strongest tornadoes over the past 55 years in the United States.
With a warming climate, the thunderstorms and weather conditions that give rise to tornadoes could increase in some areas. But challenges in observing and modeling these events result in many uncertainties about how the frequency and intensity of tornadoes will change. Scientists have low confidence  in projections of trends in severe storms, including the intensity and frequency of tornadoes, hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds.
This is in part due to a lack of long-term and the fact that such small and often remote storms are difficult to monitor and model.
Floods Why does it matter? Flooding can cause disease, deaths, and injuries; damage property and critical infrastructure such as sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities; and disrupt or displace communities. Heavy rainfall events, more intense storms, and changes in the timing of snowmelt can lead to more frequent or intense flooding in some areas.
Many regions of the United States are experiencing significant changes in the magnitude of river flooding. When averaged over the entire nation, however, the increases and decreases cancel each other out and show no national level trend.
For instance, there has been an increase in flooding events in the Midwest, Great Plains, and Northeast in the last several decades, where the largest increases in heavy rain amounts have occurred.
But flooding has decreased in the Southwest. Heavy rainfall events and more intense storms in some regions could lead to more frequent or intense flooding in many United States regions, even in areas where total precipitation is projected to decline.
The link between floods and climate change is a relatively new area of research, and many other factors, like land use and management practices, can trigger these events or influence how damaging they become. Scientists have high confidence  that there have been regional trends in floods. However, scientists have low confidence   in projections of future changes in flood frequency and intensity, because the causes of regional changes are complex.
Reducing the Threat of Climate Change and Preparing for Impacts Extreme weather and climate events pose a serious threat to the health and welfare of American families and businesses. For instance, between andthe United States experienced 32 weather events that each caused at least one billion dollars in damages.
This map summarizes the number of times each state has been affected by weather and climate events over the past 30 years that have resulted in more than a billion dollars in damages. The Southeast has been affected by more billion-dollar disasters than any other region. The primary disaster type for coastal states such as Florida is hurricanes, while interior and northern states in the region also experience sizeable numbers of tornadoes and winter storms.