Climate Research

Australian researchers have narrowed the predicted temperature range of global warming. They found that exceeding 6°C warming was now unlikely while exceeding 2°C is very likely for business-as-usual emissions. This was achieved through a new method combining observations of CO2 and global temperature variations with simple climate model simulations to project future global warming.

This Week in Climate News

Our own Heidi Cullen discusses the possible role of climate change in extreme weather patterns on CBS's Face the Nation. Watch>>>

"Weather Forecasting Improvement Act" was introduced into Congress

Oklahoma Tornado Shows Progress in Weather Warnings

Weather Satellite Outage Points to Larger Problems


The Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) are a ground measurement study currently taking place in Iowa that will run through June 15th. The program uses detailed precipitation measurements to improve rainfall estimates from satellites.


A new NASA and university analysis of ocean data collected more than 135 years ago provides further confirmation that human activities have warmed our planet over the past century. The research reveals that the ocean has absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, leading to a thermal expansion of sea water that contributed to about 40 percent of the total sea level rise seen from 1873 to 1955.


While NOAA is forecasting an active 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, they are expecting a below average hurricane season for the Eastern and Central Pacific.

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We've been in an active Atlantic tropical period since 1995, and it could go on for several more years


A graphical look at how much we know & how reliable our observations are for various extreme weather trends

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Story Highlights

  • This hurricane season is forecast to be very active

  • We've been in an active period since 1995, where the average number of named tropical storms has jumped significantly to 15.2 per year.

  • Climate change is likely to make North Atlantic hurricanes fewer but more powerful in coming decades

  • Growing coastal populations are putting more people and property in harm's way

Click here for a high-resolution version

Click here for a high-resolution version

As hurricane preparedness week comes to an end and the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season gets officially under way, NOAA and other forecasters are expecting a very active season with up to 20 named storms and three to six major hurricanes. If it plays out that way, it would put this year as the second most active season since 2005, and well above the current active period average that started in 1995 – when the number of named storms jumped significantly over the 25 or so years before.

The variation makes sense, since hurricane numbers rise and fall every few decades with the naturally cycling Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, or AMO. But it’s not clear why the average is significantly higher now than it was during the last upswing, which ended in 1970 or thereabouts. It’s even less clear why we saw so many major hurricanes making landfall between 1950 and 1970, but none since 2005. There’s no evidence that it has to do with climate change.

The graphic below 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.

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