Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More heat waves: increase of extremes due to climate change

25.10.2011
The Moscow heat wave last year was, with high probability, the result of climate change – contrary to what some have assumed.

With a likelihood of 80 percent, it was not natural short-term climatic variability but the long-term warming trend that caused the temperature record in the region surrounding the Russian capital in July 2010, according to scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

They developed a formula for calculating how frequently weather extremes occur in a changing climate. This week their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“In many countries unprecedented weather extremes were observed during the last decade, while at the same time global mean temperature is rising steeply,” says lead-author Stefan Rahmstorf. “We looked at how these things are connected.” The researchers have quantified how many additional weather records are caused by climate change. Without climatic warming, natural fluctuations would also lead to new records, but they would do so less often. In this study, the researchers apply their method to heat records, but in the future, other extremes will be investigated. "For temperature, we show that climate change overall leads to more extremes," says Rahmstorf. "This is in many cases harmful to people."

"In many cases harmful to people"

The very hot summer of 2003 in Europe, often referred to as the summer of the century, resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. The record heat wave in 2010 even topped the summer of 2003, causing massive crop failure and forced Russia to ban wheat exports temporarily. In addition to this, huge wildfires plagued the country.

The steeper the climatic warming trend, the greater the number of heat records will be. In contrast, larger year-to-year temperature fluctuations lead to fewer records. At first this seems counter-intuitive as for a single event, it is of course a particularly high peak that scores the record. Such a peak, however, makes subsequent records less likely, so that variability overall reduces the number of records. It is the ratio of the climatic warming trend to the variability that determines the expected number of new records. Observational data supports this and is explained by this theoretical insight.

Only small decrease of cold extremes

Extreme cold makes people suffer just as extreme heat does. "Unfortunately, our analysis shows that the increase of heat extremes is not at all compensated by a decrease in cold extremes," says co-author Dim Coumou. This decrease in fact is found to be quite small. "In total, the frequency of monthly temperature records has already multiplied."

Article: Rahmstorf, S., Coumou, D. (2011): Increase of extreme events in a warming world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (early edition), [doi:10.1073/pnas.1101766108]

The article is available upon request at: pnasnews@nas.edu

For further information please contact the PIK press office:

Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
E-mail: press@pik-potsdam

Mareike Schodder | PIK Potsdam
Further information:
http://www.pik-potsdam.de

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>