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

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht International team reports ocean acidification spreading rapidly in Arctic Ocean
28.02.2017 | University of Delaware

nachricht Secrets of the calcerous ooze revealed
28.02.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology offers fast peptide synthesis

28.02.2017 | Life Sciences

WSU research advances energy savings for oil, gas industries

28.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Who can find the fish that makes the best sound?

28.02.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>