Scientist Explores Links Between Extreme Weather and Climate Change
Extreme weather events around the world during the summer of 2010, ranging from devastating flooding in Pakistan to a deadly heat wave in Russia, have many people asking if climate change is now influencing daily weather patterns. After all, scientific assessments of climate change, including the 2007 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have stated that climate change increases the odds of certain extreme weather events, such as heat waves and heavy rainfall. Still, the science of climate change attribution is an emerging field, with research programs just getting underway in the U.S. and other countries.
To find out more about how climate change might be connected to the recent string of extreme weather events, I spoke via Skype with Dr. Peter Stott of the UK Met Office. Stott is one of the leading researchers in this area, having conducted a study that examined the role that climate change may have played in the 2003 European heat wave, which killed an estimated 40,000 people. In the interview, he explains why climate scientists can't say that that climate change caused a particular extreme event, but that global warming is increasing the odds that such events will occur.