Support Our Work

Extreme Weather Trends: What Do We Know?

The graphic above charts our understanding of various types of extreme weather, based on how good our understanding is of what causes them (Y-axis) and how reliable our observations have been (X-axis). We clearly know more about both aspects of hurricanes than we do of tornadoes, but less than we know about heavy precipitation, heat waves and other weather extremes.

The current level of understanding makes it hard to say for certain how climate change will influence Atlantic hurricanes in the future. We do know that warmer sea-surface temperatures are likely to make them stronger (though they could be fewer in number); that rising sea level will make storm surges more damaging; that hurricane driven rains will probably become even more torrential; and that rapid population growth along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts will put more people and property in harm’s way.