Searching for a culprit for the soaring temperatures, research teams have identified either natural or manmade causes. But a new study concludes the devastating heat wave had both. Soaring temperatures were within the natural range for a Russian summer, the researchers found, but due to human- induced climate change, the chance of such an extreme heat wave has tripled over the past several decades.
"Natural variability could lead to such a heat wave," said Friederike Otto of the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, lead author of the paper. "However due to the global warming trend, the frequency of occurrence of such a heat wave has increased."
Otto and her colleagues used a climate model that was able to run thousands of simulations. The model was part of the weatherathome.net project, which uses volunteers' idle computers in order to increase the computing power and answer complex questions - like the role of climate change in a particular extreme event.
Fahrenheit) and had a comparable pattern of daily above-average temperatures that peaked at about 12 degrees Celsius (22 degrees Fahrenheit) beyond the mean. So the magnitude of the heat wave could be due to natural factors, the researchers concluded.However when the researchers ran their computer simulations, 2010 temperatures were only reached every 99 years or so under the pre-global warming conditions. Under the current, warmer, climate of the 2000s, those extreme temperatures popped up in the model every 33 years
- a three-fold increase over just four decades.
'These results show that the same weather event can be both "mostly natural" in terms of magnitude and "mostly human-induced" in terms of probability,' explained Neil Massey of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford University, who was also an author of the study. 'Thinking in these terms makes it possible to calculate, for instance, how much human- induced climate change cost the Russian economy in the summer of 2010.'
The research will be published in an upcoming Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.
This new way of approaching the problem reconciles apparently contradictory results from two separate 2011 studies, Otto said. In the first of those studies, by Randall Dole of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo, and his colleagues, researchers focused on why the heat wave was as large as it was - coming up with a natural explanation. The second, by Stefan Rahmstorf and Dim Coumou with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany, asked the question of how frequently such heat waves will occur, finding a manmade acceleration.
The new study stresses the need to examine both the magnitude and frequency of extreme events, Otto said. "It's necessary to analyze both, to really judge the role of global warming," she said. And the results will vary with respect to the event. In a separate study, when the researchers looked at flood risk in the United Kingdom, they found that the risk for fall floods increased under warmer climate conditions, but decreased for spring floods.
Given the cost of extreme weather events, determining how the risks are changing allows scientists to better quantify the events and possibly to help build resilience in society's responses to them, said Myles Allen, a professor in the School of Geography and Environment, Oxford University, co-author of the GRL paper and the principal investigator of the weatherathome.net and climateprediction.net projects.
"People deserve to know how much climate change is affecting them," Allen said, "and we have the methods to answer the question: How is human influence loading the weather dice?"Notes for Journalists
Or, you may order a copy of the final paper by emailing your request to Kate Ramsayer at email@example.com. Please provide your name, the name of your publication, and your phone number.
Neither the paper nor this press release are under embargo.Title:
Neil Massey: Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and Atmospheric Oceanic and Planetary Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom;
Geert Jan van Oldenborgh: Department of Climate Research and Seismology, Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut, De Bilt, The Netherlands;
Richard G. Jones: Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom;
Myles R Allen: Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom;Contact information for the authors:
Kate Ramsayer | American Geophysical Union
Extreme makeover: Mankind's unprecedented transformation of Earth
30.06.2015 | University of Leicester
Atmospheric mysteries unraveling
30.06.2015 | University of Colorado at Boulder
New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions
A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...
Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.
Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...
A team of scientists including PhD student Friedrich Schuler from the Laboratory of MEMS Applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of...
The three-year clinical trial results of the retinal implant popularly known as the "bionic eye," have proven the long-term efficacy, safety and reliability of...
On June 23, the second Sentinel mission was launched from the space mission launch center in Kourou. A critical component of Aachen is on board. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and Tesat-Spacecom have jointly developed the know-how for space-qualified laser components. For the Sentinel mission the diode laser pump module of the Laser Communication Terminal LCT was planned and constructed in Aachen in cooperation with the manufacturer of the LCT, Tesat-Spacecom, and the Ferdinand Braun Institute.
After eight years of preparation, in the early morning of June 23 the time had come: in Kourou in French Guiana, the European Space Agency launched the...
25.06.2015 | Event News
16.06.2015 | Event News
11.06.2015 | Event News
01.07.2015 | Press release
01.07.2015 | Awards Funding
01.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy