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Study: Some extreme weather can be blamed on climate change

"People frequently ask questions such as, 'Did climate change cause Hurricane Sandy?'" said researcher David Titley.
By Brooks Hays   |   March 11, 2016 at 4:24 PM
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa., March 11 (UPI) -- Many studies on extreme weather -- tornado outbreaks, lengthy droughts, super storms -- address the role of climate change tentatively.

Scientists might acknowledge that climate change encourages the types of climatic conditions that promote extreme weather events, but they typically stop short of declaring direct causation.

A new report, however, suggests extreme weather events can be at least partially blamed on anthropogenic climate change.

The report was written and published by a group of researchers with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

"People frequently ask questions such as, 'Did climate change cause Hurricane Sandy?'" David Titley, professor of practice in Penn State's Department of Meteorology and founding director of Penn State's Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, said in a press release.

"Science can't answer that because there are so many relevant factors for hurricanes," continued Titley, who chaired the committee that authored the report. "What this report is saying is that we can attribute an increased magnitude or frequency of some extreme weather events to climate change."

Establishing the effects of climate change on extreme weather is vital to predicting and planning for the future.

The new report lays out the data sets and scientific prerequisites necessary for linking man-made climate change and extreme weather. Scientists need a basic understanding of the physical conditions that make extreme weather events possible, as well as sufficient historical data to contextualize the events.

The above mentioned data sets and knowledge can allow scientists to determine the role climate change plays in encouraging extreme weather.

And doing so, Titley said, will "enhance scientists' ability to accurately predict and project future weather and climatic states."

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