The heavy rains and flooding in Louisiana have been devastating. Can we attribute the severity of it to climate change? How you measure that depends on the questions you ask.
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Attributing Extreme Weather to Causes—Including Climate Change
New research and more powerful computer models are advancing scientists’ ability to tease apart the forces that can worsen extreme weather. In a new report, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences that includes Columbia’s Adam Sobel assesses the young field of attribution studies.
With Chapala’s destructive landfall in Yemen just a couple of days in the past, a second tropical cyclone, Megh, has just formed in the Arabian Sea. This one is not forecast to become anywhere near as intense as Chapala did—though we know intensity forecasts can be wrong, as they were at early stages for both Chapala and Patricia.
What is needed politically and in reality is a positive vision of a sustainable society. In the case of this country it will need to be built on the traditional values that have always attracted people to America: freedom, rewarding individual achievement, a love of the new and novel, innovation, and acceptance (even if reluctantly) of other people, cultures and lifestyles.
Hurricane Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever observed in either the Atlantic or eastern Pacific, is expected to make landfall on the Southwest coast of Mexico this afternoon and evening as an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane.
What will Hurricane Joaquin do? The science of predicting that is getting better, but still uncertain. The debate today is over whether there will be a U.S. landfall now in five or more days’ time or not; 30 years ago there would have been no point in even having that discussion.
Most of Earth’s rainfall occurs in a tropical zonal band that circles the Earth. Understanding how this band will responds to climate change requires us to combine time scales from hours to millennia.
The storm tracks define the weather and climate in mid-latitudes. A recent workshop in Switzerland highlighted the important role that clouds play for the response of the storm tracks to climate change.
The disaster in New Orleans was almost uniquely awful in modern American history. But even if Katrina isn’t likely to happen everywhere, something can happen almost anywhere—including, we now know, New York. And further to the north and east.
If you take a look at nearly any satellite image of clouds in the tropics, you’ll notice that the clouds tend to be organized into clusters. One specific type of cloud organization called “self-aggregation.” Self-aggregation is the tendency of tropical clouds to spontaneously clump together, solely due to interactions between the clouds and the surrounding environment.