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What do extreme heat waves tell us about the dangers of climate change?


Scientists have simply had too little time with a climate system heated by human actions to determine the answers to those kinds of questions.

“There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to these unprecedented and record-breaking events,” said Flavio Lehner, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell. “You cannot, with the utmost confidence, say that the models achieve this or fail to achieve this,” when it comes to certain extreme events.

What other forces can contribute to very intense heat waves?

Many researchers are exploring the extent to which certain forces can exacerbate heat waves, and whether they can exact representation in today’s models, Lehner said.

These include potential feedback effects, such as the drying up of soil and crops in some regions. Exceeding certain thresholds, this can accelerate warming during heatwaves, because the energy that goes into the evaporating water warms the air.

Another open science question is whether climate change itself is increasing the existence of certain atmospheric patterns that are driving heat waves. That includes a build-up of high-pressure grooves that push warm air downwards, creating so-called heat domes that hover over and bake large areas.

Follow an upcoming article. In Europe, researchers have noted that a split in the jet stream and warming seas could play a role in increasing extreme heat events across the continent.

Why don’t scientists warn us properly?

c. Some publications have actually word in with this effect, to deal with increasingly severe weather phenomena.

But, more clearly, scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades, in every possible way, that climate change will make the planet warmer, more exotic, more unpredictable, and in more ways dangerous to humans, animals and ecosystems. And they were frank about the limits of their understanding. The main accusation they have faced up until recently (and still happening, for many quarters) is that they are apocalyptic scaremongers who exaggerate the threat to research funding or reason. due to politics.

Real-world events highlight shortcomings in climate models, to the extent they are, not to the extent of an “aha, gotcha, scientists are wrong” revelation. They give a stress test of the tools, which researchers eagerly use to refine their understanding of these systems and the models they have created to represent them, Lehner said.

Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Environmental Institute, put it bluntly, in letter answer The New York Times’ asserts that “few people think” [climate change] will come very soon”:“The problem is not that the scientists got it wrong. That is, despite clear warnings consistent with the available evidence, scientists dedicated to informing the public have struggled to get their say in an atmosphere filled with accusations. false alarmism and political motives. “



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