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Understanding the Jetstream
Jennifer Francis, Rutgers University
One intriguing idea about how and why a warming Arctic might be changing the
Northern Hemisphere jetstream, explained in a technical but very clear video.
Not everyone agrees, though: see Stephanie Paige Ogburn's
good overview of the debate on ClimateWire;
this 8-minute interview
from the Yale Climate Media Forum with Francis and one of the dissenting
scientists, Kevin Trenberth; and, another good overview,
January 2014 article from the Toledo Blade.
(5 minutes, September 2013)
What's Causing Unusually Hot Temperatures in U.S.?
Judy Woodruff interviews atmospheric scientist Kevin Trenberth, who explains
that the rate at which high (versus low) temperature records are being broken
is "a clear indication of climate change." Trenberth is a Distinguished Senior
Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for
Atmospheric Research. He and many other leading climate scientists were also
interviewed by Associated Press science reporter Seth Borenstein for a brief
but very good story,
"This US summer is 'what global warming looks like,'"
published on Comcast's news web site.
(6 minutes, July 2, 2012)
Our Year of Extremes: Did Climate Change Just Hit Home?
Ann Curry, NBC News
An excellent feature story about recent extremes (cold in the East, drought
in the Southwest, wildfires, flash floods, Arctic ice melt, Superstorm Sandy)
and their connections with climate change‒considered on the ground,
through interviews with climate scientists and with people who have
experienced these events first-hand.
(42 minutes; also divided into shorter sections, 2014)
||articles & essays
Why a Little Global Warming Means Big Increases in Heat Waves, Droughts, and Floods
Changing Climates @ CSU / 100 Views of Climate Change
This concise sheet (PDF) clearly explains this important fact. Designed to
print out as a single double-sided sheet.
The Subtle‒But Very Real Link between Global Warming and Extreme Weather Events
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, June 2015
Floods, heat waves, hurricanes, droughts: what do such events have to do with
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Here is a quick primer, touching on current
events and referring to a 2012
report from the IPCC, "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters
to Advance Climate Change Adaptation."
Burning Questions about Winter Cold
Bob Henson, NCAR/UCAR AtmosNews, November 2014
A clear and informative discussion of the leading scientific hypotheses about
"what's causing the midlatitude chill"‒despite a steadily warming planet. Good
scientific supporting materials, as one would expect from this writer and
Can Extreme Weather Make Climate Change Worse?
Bobby Magill, Climate Central, August 2013
A short, interesting summary of
a study showing that extreme weather
(especially drought) may "reduce an ecosystem's capability to absorb carbon,"
thus making climate change worse.
As Northeast Asia Bakes, Climate Scientists Predict More Extreme Heat Waves on the Horizon
Bryan Walsh, Time, August 2013
The extreme 2013 heat wave in China, Korea, and Japan, in the context of
what's expected ("a blazingly hot future") at current greenhouse-gas emission
rates, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters. Good
links to sources and related stories. For another description of this study
from the phys.org website,
click here. For an explanation of the "three-sigma" and "five-sigma"
language in these pieces, see the Changing Climates
handout on bell curves.
FEMA Report: Climate Change Could Increase Areas at Risk of Flood by 45 Percent
Kate Sheppard and James West, Mother Jones, June 2013
That's up to 45% more US land (along coasts and inland rivers) at risk of
flooding by 2100, doubling the number of properties covered by the (already
stressed) National Flood Insurance Program; just 30% of this increase will be
from population growth, according to the study cited in this story, with 70%
from climate change.
2001-2010: A Decade of Climate Extremes
World Meteorological Organization (WMO), spring 2013
This press release is a good starting point for the WMO's hefty but lucid
overview of extreme weather around the globe during the first decade of this
century. Graphics and a link to the full report.
Climate Change Causes Wild Weather
Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, February 2013
Summarizes a report from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
that "suggests that man-made climate change is repeatedly disturbing the
patterns of airflow around the northern hemisphere, bringing extreme
conditions." Makes a good pair with Bob Henson's blog, listed immediate above.
For another good explanation of how arctic melting may be messing with the
jet stream, see Robin McKie's piece in The Observer (April 2013), "
Why Our Turbulent Weather is Getting Even Harder to Predict."
Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind
Yale Project on Climate Change Communication & George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, April 2013
Do many Americans link wild weather and climate change? The short answer is
"yes"; specifics are in this study, which begins with a succinct "Executive
Scientists: Americans Are Becoming Weather Wimps
Seth Borenstein, AP, January 2013
No, this winter in the US isn't really all that cold‒not if you check
the records (or remember) more than a couple of decades back.
Off the Charts: Extreme Australian Summer Heat
(Australian) Climate Commission, January 2013
A short, illuminating report addressing links between climate change and the
very high temperatures and bushfires of late 2012 and early 2013. For American
readers: body temperature (98.6°F) is 37°C; 40°C = 104°F;
45°C = 113°F.
Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided
World Bank, November 2012
This long but readable report (with a good Executive Summary) argues that the
poor (including those in developing countries) will likely suffer
disproportionately from such effects as heat waves, drought, and
floods‒and especially so if we don't limit warming to a lower level.
A Climate of Suffering: The Real Costs of Living with Inaction on Climate Change
The Climate Institute, August 2011
Focused on Australia, this careful and thought-provoking report (26 pages)
considers the mental health consequences of extreme weather events and climate
change, both for individuals and for communities‒including anxiety,
post-traumatic stress, the pain of forced migration, and a loss of sense of
Climate Change and Extreme Weather
Scientific American, John Carey, June 2011
An excellent three-part series about the increasing evidence that the recent
extreme weather really is linked to climate change, and on some key questions:
Why would this be so? How do we know? What difference does it make to us? What
should we be doing to prepare?
Part 1 is
Storm Warnings: Extreme Weather Is a Product of Climate Change."
Part 2 is
Global Warming and the Science of Extreme Weather."
Part 3 is
Our Extreme Future: Predicting and Coping with the Effects of a Changing
What's With the Weather? Is Climate Change to Blame?
Alyson Kenward, Yale Environment 360, April 2011
Interesting and informative piece about one way scientists are trying to
answer this question, focused on the "extreme value approach," which combines
observations with models and compares current extremes to older extremes,
rather than normal conditions.
Various good resources on this topic: short videos looking at links between
climate change and various types of extreme weather, including drought,
precipitation, heat, and snowstorms (also tornadoes, where links are unclear
and the jury is still out); and pages (from 2011) on extreme weather in the
US Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest, with references.