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Human-Caused Climate Change Responsible for Extreme Weather in 2014

First Posted: Nov 09, 2015 07:48 AM EST

It turns out that human activities, such as greenhouse gas emissions and land use, were the main cause of extreme weather and climate events in 2014. Researchers have taken a closer look at these events and found that human activities influenced cyclones in the central Pacific, heavy rainfall in Europe, and drought in East Africa.

"For each of the past four years, this report has demonstrated that individual events, like temperature extremes, have often been shown to be linked to additional atmospheric greenhouse gases caused by human activities, while other extremes, such as those that are precipitation related, are less likely to be convincingly linked to human activities," said Thomas R. Karl, director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, in a news release. "As the science of event attribution continues to advance, so too will our ability to detect and distinguish the effects of long-term climate change and natural variability on individual extreme events. Until this is fully realized, communities would be well served to look beyond the range of past extreme events to guide future resiliency efforts."

In this latest study, 32 groups of scientists from around the world investigated 28 individual extreme events in 2014 and break out various factors that led to the extreme events, including the degree to which natural variability and human-induced climate change played a role.

So what did they find? In North America, the overall probability of wildfires has increased due to human-induced climate change. While cold winters still occur in the upper Midwest, they are less likely due to climate change. Eastern U.S. winter temperatures are becoming less variable, and Tropical Cyclones that hit Hawaii were substantially more likely. In addition, flood that occurred in the southeastern Canadian prairies was due to land use and human-induced climate change.

This isn't the only region that was impacted, either. Areas across the globe were also influenced by human-induced climate change and land use.

"Understanding our influence on specific extreme weather events is ground-breaking science that will help us adapt to climate change," said Stephanie C. Herring, lead editor of the new report.

To see the report yourself, you can find it online.

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