What we’ve been saying all along.
(USA Today) — Heat waves, droughts, blizzards and the the rest of the year’s U.S. record-breaking extreme weather, likely enjoyed a boost from global warming, suggests a climate report.
Hurricane Irene this year pushed the U.S. yearly record for billion-dollar natural disasters to 10, smashing the 2008 record of nine. In the “Current Extreme Weather and Climate Change” report, released today by the Climate Communication scientific group, leading climate scientists outlined how increasing global atmospheric temperatures and other climate change effects — triggered by industrial emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and methane — are loading the dice for the sort of extreme weather seen this year.
“Greenhouse gases are the steroids of weather,” says climate projection expert Jerry Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, at a briefing held by the report’s expert reviewers. “Small increases in temperature set the stage for record breaking extreme temperature events.”
“There’s really no such thing as natural weather anymore,” says climate scientist Donald Wuebbles of the University of Illinois, who was not involved with the report, but said he largely agreed with its conclusions. “Anything that takes place today in the weather system has been affected by the changes we’ve made to the climate system. That’s just the background situation and it’s good for people to know that,” Wuebbles says. Although scientists cannot immediately tie what percentage of an extreme weather event relies on global warming to make it more severe, he says. “It’s always a factor in today’s world.”