We can't blame climate change for every extreme weather event that slams into us, yet there's little doubt among scientists that global warming is exacerbating heat waves, flooding, drought, and rainstorms. To illustrate that point, the Union of Concerned Scientists put together a handy little graphic that demonstrates which types of extreme weather scientists are confident that global warming is driving.
This summer, a record-breaking heatwave has swept much of the United States, as you might know if you happen to live in much of the United States. Scientists have been unusually forthright in linking the sweltering temps to climate change, as prominent climatologists have come forward and said things like "this is a what global warming looks like."
In the scientific community, that's a pretty uncontroversial statement—there's plenty of evidence that rising global temperatures, spurred by a still-growing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, will lead to more heat waves and coastal flooding. But the jury's still out on how precisely hurricanes and tornadoes are influenced by climate change.
Here's the UCS for the final word on their chart:
- What's the connection between global warming and extreme weather? When it comes to heat waves and coastal flooding, the scientific evidence is clear: Human-caused climate change is increasing these extreme weather events.
- Other forms of severe weather are also closely linked to climate change, including a rise in extreme precipitation events in some regions and increasingly severe droughts in others.
- The effect of climate change on tornadoes and hurricanes is an active area of research. Scientific confidence with observed data is currently low, though the underlying mechanisms of climate change are expected to play a role.
For more info on the science backing the above claims, go here.