Global warming does not cause singular climate changes, but it makes them more likely to occur. It has been proved in previous studies that a warming climate increases the number of individual extreme events. As the climate gets warmer and warmer the research regarding the cause of extreme events has also advanced.
A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change has analyzed our current climate in what concerns the daily heat and the precipitation extremes at a moderate magnitude. Reto Knutti and Erich Fischer of the ETH Zurich University have discovered that 75% of the moderate heat extremes and 18% of the moderate precipitation extremes are most likely caused by global warming.
The study also shows that the percentage of extremely hot days caused by greenhouse gases will exceed 95% in the future. Similarly if the temperatures will warm another 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) nearly 39% of the future downpours will be caused by man’s influence. The damage done by humans comes from greenhouse gases mostly consisting of carbon dioxide which is a result of the burning of gas, oil and coal.
This study is the first one which translates the impact of global warming on downpours and heat in percentages. Fisher said that they were very surprised with the results, particularly with the impact global warming has on heat extremes.
The researchers pointed that their study resembles medical studies in the sense that you cannot consider smoking the single cause of a single fatality caused by lung cancer. More accurately said, what smoking does is raise the overall risk of developing cancer in the same way global warming increases the risk of extremes.
Climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona said that this new study shows what the actual odds of human influence are. He remarked:
“If you don’t like hot temperature extremes that we’re getting, you now know how you can reduce the odds of such events by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Another climate scientist of the University of Princeton, Michael Oppenheimer, said that it is not right to ask yourself whether natural variations or human activity is the cause of a single extreme weather event. This is because both factors always play their own part in this. Oppenheimer was not part of the study, but he highly appreciated it, saying that it asks the right question, which is: to what degree the climate changes are caused by natural variations or by human activity?
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