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
Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology