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Earth Science

'Half' of 2012's Extreme Weather Impacted By Climate Change 417

Posted by Soulskill
from the other-half-cause-by-rock-music-and-mini-skirts dept.
sciencehabit writes "2012 was a year of extreme weather: Superstorm Sandy, drought and heat waves in the United States; record rainfall in the United Kingdom; unusually heavy rains in Kenya, Somalia, Japan, and Australia; drought in Spain; floods in China. One of the first questions asked in the wake of such extreme weather is: 'Could this due to climate change?' In a report (huge PDF) published online today, NOAA scientists tackled this question head-on. The overall message of the report: It varies. 'About half of the events reveal compelling evidence that human-caused change was a [contributing] factor,' said NOAA National Climatic Data Center Director Thomas Karl. In addition, climate scientist Peter Stott of the U.K. Met Office noted that these studies show that in many cases, human influence on climate has increased the risks associated with extreme events."
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'Half' of 2012's Extreme Weather Impacted By Climate Change

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @12:59PM (#44776309)

    Godfearing Christians are smitten by God and not by Climate Change.

  • cause and effect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OffTheLip (636691) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:00PM (#44776331)
    Of course humans affect the environment, how is that disputable? It's the degree and duration of the affect that is not clear. Whether, or is it weather, these human changes are a significant factor is the debate..
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The studies detailed how much climate change may have impacted specific events.

      There are plenty of *other* studies that examine human impact on climate change.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      It's important also, if you want to properly understand the study, to realize that it only looks at the negative effects. To get a good understanding of AGW, you need to look at both the positive AND the negative effects.

      For an example, this recent study published in PNAS [nationalgeographic.com] suggests that Hurricane Sandy type storms would become less likely as a result of global warming.

      Anyone who only shows you the negative of something is trying to manipulate you. That's a heuristic.
      • by QilessQi (2044624)

        Anyone who only shows you the negative of something is trying to manipulate you. That's a heuristic.

        And the fact that you're only pointing out the negative side of this report would mean...? :-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by phantomfive (622387)

          And the fact that you're only pointing out the negative side of this report would mean...? :-)

          That I'm a genius. Anytime things get too confusing, that's the conclusion I draw. Works wonders for my self-esteem.

  • Superstorm Sandy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dirtaddshp (1188189) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:01PM (#44776341)
    I have noticed only people in NY call it a superstorm, anyone else would call it a cat 1 hurricane or TS. I feel this planet goes through cycles of extremes, pointing at humans without proof is just another way to tax people.
    • Re:Superstorm Sandy? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:09PM (#44776435) Homepage Journal

      Categories only measure wind speed. What made it a "superstorm" was an improbable set of coincidences, such as being at high tide when the moon was in perigee, and another storm intersecting Sandy. What made it a superstorm was the amount of damage it caused, not its wind.

      And it isn't just New Yorkers, it's the entire news media that always calls it a superstorm.

      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:22PM (#44776585)

        I can agree with your other points but "the amount of damage it caused" is really more a function of unwise building techniques. The fact that a hurricane was going to hit New York and cause damage and at least 10' of flooding was certain- it was just a question of when.

        It's sort of like the Tsunami in Japan. There were stones saying "Tsunami water gets this high". And they were ignored.

        • by Bigby (659157)

          I agree. Although I wouldn't classify it as "unwise building techniques". The damage done directly by wind was probably a very very small fraction of what wind damage does in Florida and NC. A lot of buildings are brick, steel, and concrete. I was in one of them...it was like nothing was happening. There were a couple things at were vastly different than most storms:

          1. The significant damage, and it wasn't even close, was flooding. The storm surge coinciding with a super high tide basically dump the o

      • by alen (225700)

        yep, and we know the high tide and full moon is caused by global warming

    • by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak@s[ ]keasy.net ['pea' in gap]> on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:10PM (#44776447) Homepage
      Indeed. In fact, the one really critical lesson of the last 2 or so years, from both Fukushima and NYC/SuperStorm Sandy, is do ***NOT*** build critical or fragile structures near, at, or below sea-level in a near-ocean-shore environment.
      • At least San Francisco is mostly well above sea level...oh wait, who cares, they're on major earthquake faults....they'll be causing the next tsunami heading west from them. Scratch that.
    • by TheSync (5291)

      Sandy was pretty weak compared to The New England Hurricane of 1938 [wikipedia.org] (also Called "The Long Island Express") that made landfall on Long Island as a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. Wind gusts of 125 mph (200 km/h) and storm surge of 18 feet (5 m) washed across part of the island. In New York 60 deaths and hundreds of injuries were attributed to the storm. In addition, 2,600 boats and 8,900 houses are destroyed.

    • You want proof that you are right? Head to California and visit any one of the Redwood forests. They usually have a huge cross-section of a giant tree that was cut down or fell down. Look a the rings over the past 2,000 years (which some of these trees can show). It will show a hundred year of large thick rings and then 100 year of tight small rings (more or less). Sometimes, several rings very tight and then several rings very big. I'm not a "scientist" or biologist, but even I can tell that the clim
      • I find the tree ring cores fascinating, and am sympathetic to the inherent difficulties that paleoclimatologists have to deal with (natural variation being the least of them).

        The one thing I've never seen answered about tree ring growth though is how do you separate the temperature signal from:

        1) amount of CO2 in atmosphere
        2) amount of rainfall
        3) amount of sunshine
        4) changing nutrient levels in the soil (the soil must change for trees that lives hundreds of years, right?)

        I agree with you that it's totally o

      • Yep. That's called "dendroclimatic modelling." It is, indeed, one of the best means we have to trying to understand the climate of the past in temperate latitudes (at arctic latitudes, ice cores are a good tool).

        At least this article is somewhat accurate by using words like "influence" and "contributing factor"...yes, please, tell us what the other contributing factors and influences are.

        Depends on time scale. Over short time scales, volcanic eruptions injecting aerosols into the atmosphere are a big factor. (Aerosols injected by humans have an effect too, of course.) Over longer time scales, Milankovitch cycles.

  • The earth is big (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:05PM (#44776377)
    The earth is large and has a dynamic, varied climate, subject to large changes and 'anomalies'. That said, to show that half the more extreme events seen show evidence of human induced change puts into perspective just how much (uncontrolled, and lacking knowledge) input we have on this planet and its climate. Humankind is a force to be reckoned with.

    The question should not be is warming/climate change aided by manmade endeavors. It should be, now that we realize we have the power to alter the climate, what do we want to do? Let it go as is? Change it for the better? Try to change it back?

    Now I will go get my popcorn.. I need to have snacks for the ensuing battle.

    • I rather giggle at "Man-Made Global Warming". Primarily, because the planet has been in an Ice Age for the past 2-3 million years: we are merely between continental glacial advances.

      The HISTORIC climate for most of the US was hot and swampy for the past several hundred million years. Since genus homo has only been around for the last 2 million years or so, you can't even blame us for human-induced global COOLING. . .

      • I rather giggle at "Man-Made Global Warming". Primarily, because the planet has been in an Ice Age for the past 2-3 million years: we are merely between continental glacial advances.

        The HISTORIC climate for most of the US was hot and swampy for the past several hundred million years. Since genus homo has only been around for the last 2 million years or so, you can't even blame us for human-induced global COOLING. . .

        I rather boggle at you giggling at observed effects of human activity on our climate, while at the same time taking as fact that our planet has been in an Ice Age for the past 2-3 million years, despite not having observed this yourself.

        The other boggling thing is to see that you don't seem to understand the difference between natural global climate changes and temporally localized man-made climate change, and that both can happen *at the same time* and influence each other. When you want warm water from a

        • by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak@s[ ]keasy.net ['pea' in gap]> on Friday September 06, 2013 @02:42PM (#44777585) Homepage

          I am TEMPTED to reply with the short version of this argument, that goes as follows:

          SCIENCE, bitches!

          However, I'd tell you how I'm confident of my information. We call it "Geology", and it's what I studied and did 20+ years ago, before I evolved into an IT Geek. Specifically, Quaternary [wikipedia.org] Geology, which, amongst other things, chronicles the glaciations of the past 2.6 million years. Which is proven by land structures, glacial remains like drumlins and moraines, and radio-isotopic dating of various types used to date those structures.

          I also note the longer-term average climate based on the extensive fossil and geological record, as evidenced by not just radio-dating, but standard principles like "unless overturned (which can be detected easily by examination of the rocks), lower strata are older than younger strata. Paleomagnetic data yields approximate latitude, so we KNOW most of what is now the US and Europe were swampy jungles, which require a significantly warmer and wetter climate than they currently enjoy. And before you mention Continental Drift, paleomagnetic data was crucial in supporting that theory, as well.

          So again, I say to your boggling: SCIENCE, bitches!!!

    • I'm not on the denier side, but risk is likelihood and severity. They showed likelihood but neither the summary nor the article spoke to severity. What is this statistical significance or practical significance?
      • Finally, someone who can read and speak fear-mongering. You get it.

        I see a difference from 10 years ago....I mean, I don't see any difference from 10 years ago. I also travel a lot all around the world. The one thing that usually strikes me as I look out the window is how much air is out there and how most of the time we are flying over vast areas of no-mans-land with no pollution....one exception. India. Fly all over India in regional jets and you usually don't get higher than the brown haze of smok
      • Statistically, about 1 degree C per century. But that was from previous pollution levels. We've increased since then.

        http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Instrumental_Temperature_Record_(NASA).svg [wikimedia.org]

        Call it 2 more degrees C by 2100 as a first approximation.

        That's enough to change the ice caps, ocean levels, comfortable regions, etc. That alone will cost humanity trillions to mitigate/move/deal with those changes.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:24PM (#44776601) Homepage Journal
    With those hard numbers the remaining thing to see in this discussion is how many people is paid for Koch industries and similar ones [greenpeace.org], and how many got fooled by them into denying that human activity are causing changes in global climate strong enough to be responsible for the consequences of some of the extreme weather we suffered in recent years.
  • The trick (Score:4, Funny)

    by oliverk (82803) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:31PM (#44776679)

    The trick is knowing WHICH half

  • Show me the detailed worldwide climate model including the future cycles of the Sun before I will consider believing 1 year worth of change is due to any particular cause.

    Come on now. Rational, scientific work doesn't confuse Correlation with Causation!

  • We have no idea, but picking the number int he middle hedges our bets the most.
  • How does that figure? And don't say instability... I could believe Extreme Reporting on weather rather than extreme weather....global warning is real, but it connection to last year's storms seem tenuous....
  • by Kohath (38547) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:42PM (#44776841)

    Is that considered extreme weather? If so, which half is it in?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/30/a-head-scratcher-no-atlantic-hurricane-by-august-in-first-time-in-11-years/#more-92771 [wattsupwiththat.com]

  • 100 percent of weather is effected by all changes in the climate.
    • Affected. Not effected. If you had left out "all", then it would have been correct either way.

      A true observation, however trite.

      Here's what I want to know. How much weather is affected by humans? Screw the climate.

      Did changes in the character or volume of emissions in China or India in 2011 set up the conditions for the summer of 2012? Or the US or Europe or Russia, for that matter. Did human activity directly drive the weather?

      I'm guessing not. Ocean currents seem to be the biggest driver of changes

      • by Dishevel (1105119)
        It is also a question that is not asked. The establishment just assumes that the change is caused by man. The currents, the Sun, the constant change over time and all the things we do not even know enough about to know that may account for some of the changes are all ignored. Man is bad and must die.
  • That report is as accurate as an old tymey Alminac that says that the last 4 years it did not rain today, so it wont rain today.

    I want to see the raw data and all the peer reviews of the same study. Too many of you people JUMP on the OMG sky is falling / OMG Sky is not falling bandwagons too fast.

    US scientists want to see the real meat and what a LOT of others scientists think.

  • Let's just say it's all true.

    Then what? In order to have ANY appreciable effect GLOBAL GDP would have to be rolled back.

    that simply aint going to happen.

  • by PPH (736903)

    But which half?

    Half of my coin flips are influenced by some mysterious force causing them to come up heads. Or is it tails?

  • Yes, the planet has gone through many, many periods of extreme warming and cooling over the millenniums however there is no previous warming trend spanning 110 years like we have since the 1900's. Data suggests the start of the industrialized age has contributed heavily heavily to the climate change issue. We've never seen warming before over 20 year periods like we see since 1900 [1] and the only best guess at this point is industrialization and anthropogenic activity impact the climate negatively.

    So, d

    • there is no previous warming trend spanning 110 years like we have since the 1900's.

      We've never seen warming before over 20 year periods like we see since 1900 [1]

      These are pretty amazing claims to make considering that accurate, global instrumental records cover less than the last 100 years!

      It's my understanding that most "paleo" records can indicate greater climate shifts, but with nothing like 20 year granularity.

      I viewed the BBC page you linked to. It's a perfect example of why I find myself sickeningly torn when it comes to AGW. I'm a big, big believer in protecting lands, reducing pollution, and generally more sustainable living. Like a good 21st century Americ

  • All weasel words.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KirbyCombat (1142225) on Friday September 06, 2013 @02:47PM (#44777649)
    1) "compelling" - well, maybe, probably 2) "evidence" - not proof or anything 3) "contributing" - might be some part of it 4) "factor" - however small Don't discount me as a denier... I just don't like seeing "compelling evidence of a contributing factor". You can say that about anything and not be wrong....
  • Climate scientist Peter Stott of the U.K. Met Office should have commented that these studies show that in many cases, excess human presence in areas where they have no business permanently living, has increased the risks associated with extreme events that randomly occur. Humans need to learn that life on Earth has not always been pleasant and the building of and living in flimsy structures in Earthquake fault zones, flood zones, and areas where tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes frequent will lead to unp

  • I read the header and thought, "Okay, 1006's Extreme Weather Impacted By Climate Change"

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