Tag: extreme weather

SW Europe faces greatest multi-hazard climate risks

Europe drought and climate change
In early December 2015 the European Alps were mostly free of snow during a lengthy dry period. @bberwyn photo.

Flooding, droughts and wildfires all expected to increase

Staff Report

New European climate modeling doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the decades ahead. With global warming, Europe is facing a progressively stronger increase in multiple climate hazards, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

Early in the 21st century, reported losses from extreme weather are already at historically high levels, and climate change is likely to increase the risk, the researchers concluded in a new paper presented late April at the European Geosciences Union annual assembly in Vienna. Continue reading “SW Europe faces greatest multi-hazard climate risks”

Extreme 2014 Balkan flooding linked to airstream slowdown

Extreme rainfall events increasing globally

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Flooding along the Sava River in May 2014, photographed from a NASA Earth-observing satellite. Visit NASA Earth observatory for more info.

Staff Report

Destructive floods that raged through parts of the Balkan region in 2014 are part of a global trend toward more extreme rainfall events — a pattern increasingly linked with changes in atmospheric circulation.

In new findings published this week, scientists found that disastrous floods in the Balkans two years ago are likely linked to the temporary slowdown of giant airstreams. Several other climate studies have explored whether climate change is causing the slowdown of giant atmospheric waves that carry storm systems from west the east across the northern hemisphere. The decline of Arctic sea ice has been eyed as a factor. Decreasing temperature and pressure gradients between high- and mid-latitudes may be causing more weather systems to get stuck, some scientists say.

UK scientists explored similar links between changes in the Jet Stream and extreme rain across the British Isles in 2013. Around the same time, University of Utah scientists looked at similar patterns across North America. Researchers have also explored if jet stream shifts are linked with extreme meltdown events across Greenland. Continue reading “Extreme 2014 Balkan flooding linked to airstream slowdown”

Climate: EU study says flood protection should focus on adaptation rather than avoidance

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Catastrophic floods along Elbe River in 2002 swamped huge sections of land in northern Germany, as shown by a NASA Earth Observatory image from Landsat 7.

Local flood protection efforts inadequate to meet growing climate change threat

Staff Report

As extreme rain events become more frequent, European efforts to address the threat of river flooding should focus on adapting to impacts rather than trying to avoid them, according to a new study published in the journal Climatic Change.

The ressearch, led by scientists with European Commission Joint Research Centre, studied the benefits of four adaptation measures based on the increasing flood risk projected by climate models, including reduction of the peak flows through water retention, reduction of vulnerability and relocation to safer areas. Continue reading “Climate: EU study says flood protection should focus on adaptation rather than avoidance”

Are West European beaches under a global warming siege?

Study finds 2013-2014 winter was stormiest since 1940s

As global warming drives rising sea levels and more intense storms, some communities are looking to augment their beaches with "imported" sand. like here on Manasota Key in Englewood, Florida.
As global warming drives rising sea levels and more intense storms, some communities are looking to augment their beaches with “imported” sand. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Fierce Atlantic storms that surged toward Europe’s western coastlines during the winter of 2013-2014 were the strongest in nearly 70 years — and such storms may become more frequent and even more powerful due to global warming.

The trend toward more storminess has implications for land-use planners and emergency management agencies in Europe, with the potential to dramatically change the equilibrium state of beaches, including permanent changes in beach gradient, coastal alignment and nearshore bar position.

“The extreme winter of 2013-2014 is in line with historical trends in wave conditions and is also predicted to increasingly occur due to climate change according to some of the climate models,” said Tim Scott, a lecturer in ocean exploration at Plymouth University and a co-author of the study. “Whether due to more intense and … or more frequent storms, it should undoubtedly be considered in future coastal and sea defense planning along the Atlantic coast of Europe.” Continue reading “Are West European beaches under a global warming siege?”

Global warming could boost rainfall in world’s deserts

Research suggests extreme rain events more likely in dry regions

desert rain.
Will intense desert rainstorms become more common with global warming? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Extreme rainfall events in desert areas — like recent storms in Death Valley and Chile’s Atacama Desert — may be partly driven by cyclical climate phenomena like El Niño, but such storms could also become more common in coming decades as the global climate warms.

A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests global warming will boost rainfall in some of the world’s driest regions. Flash flooding in deserts could become commonplace, according to the researchers with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

“We found a strong relationship between global warming and an increase in rainfall, particularly in areas outside of the tropics,” said lead author Dr Markus Donat. “Within the tropics we saw an increase in rainfall responding to global warming but the actual rate of this increase was less clear.” Continue reading “Global warming could boost rainfall in world’s deserts”

Climate: Are tornado outbreaks becoming more frequent?

A new NOAA study tracks the occurrence of seasonal tornadoes across the U.S.
Severe tornado outbreaks across the U.S. are increasing. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Average number of tornadoes per outbreak has increased by 50 percent since 1954

Staff Report

Forecasting tornadoes has never been easy, and when you add global climate change to the equation, it becomes even murkier. In some studies, researchers say they haven’t been able to pinpoint any long-term trends in tornado activity, while other research suggests tornado seasons are becoming more variable.

In one recent 10 year period, tornadoes in the United States resulted in an average of 110 deaths per year and annual losses ranging from $500 million to $9.6 billion, so trying to establish patterns and improve forecasting models is not just an idle mathematical exercise.

A new examination of tornado records during the past 60 years indicates that tornado outbreaks (six or more tornadoes during a limited time) have become more frequent. Such outbreaks result in the largest numbers of deaths and injuries, as well as the most property destruction. The study, published recently in Nature Communications, also shows that mathematical models show the chance of such extreme events is growing over time. Continue reading “Climate: Are tornado outbreaks becoming more frequent?”

Climate: This year’s El Niño has passed its peak, scientists say

Impacts expected for months to come

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This year’s El Niño will go down as one of the strongest on record

Staff Report

Meteorologists say the 2015-2016 El Niño has peaked, but it remains strong and will continue to influence global weather in the months ahead. With eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures more than 2 degrees Celsius above average in late 2015, this El Niño will go down as one of the strongest on record, although it’s not clear if it was the strongest ever, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

For now, the outlook is that El Niño will fade during the next half year. As typically happens,  El Niño reached its peak ocean surface temperature during November and December, but those temperatures have since declined by about half a degree.

“We have just witnessed one of the most powerful ever El Niño events which caused extreme weather in countries on all continents and helped fuel record global heat in 2015,” said WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas. “In meteorological terms, this El Niño is now in decline. But we cannot lower our guard as it is still quite strong and in humanitarian and economic terms, its impacts will continue for many months to come,” Taalas said. Continue reading “Climate: This year’s El Niño has passed its peak, scientists say”