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Gwen Noda

Humans Are Driving Extreme Weather; Time to Prepare - 0 views

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    "Science 25 November 2011:
    Vol. 334 no. 6059 p. 1040
    DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6059.1040

    * News & Analysis

    Climate Change
    Humans Are Driving Extreme Weather; Time to Prepare

    1. Richard A. Kerr

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    Thai floods 2011

    Hurricane Katrina 2005

    Texas drought 2011
    "CREDITS (LEFT TO RIGHT): PAULA BRONSTEIN/GETTY IMAGES; JEFF SCHMALTZ, MODIS RAPID RESPONSE TEAM, NASA/GSFC; NOAA"

    An international scientific assessment finds for the first time that human activity has indeed driven not just global warming but also increases in some extreme weather and climate events around the world in recent decades. And those and likely other weather extremes will worsen in coming decades as greenhouse gases mount, the report finds.

    But uncertainties are rife in the still-emerging field of extreme events. Scientists cannot attribute a particular drought or flood to global warming, and they can say little about past or future trends in the risk of high-profile hazards such as tropical cyclones. Damage from weather disasters has been climbing, but the report can attribute that trend only to the increasing exposure of life and property to weather risks. Climate change may be involved, but a case cannot yet be made.

    Despite the uncertainties, the special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released 18 November stresses that there is still reason for taking action now. The panel recommends "low-regrets measures," such as improvements in everything from drainage systems to early warning systems. Such measures would benefit society in dealing with the current climate as well as with almost any range of possible future climates.

    The report takes a cautious, consensus-based approach that draws on the published literature. Headlines and even some scientists may point to the current Texas drought or the 2003 European heat wave as the result of the strengthening greenhouse. But the report fin
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