- Category: Politics
10 Aug 2012
- Published on Friday, 10 August 2012 11:12
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With the Philippines struggling to recover from record breaking rains and South Africa experiencing a rare snowfall, this week has shown many an example of what climate scientists call “extreme weather events.”
Unusual, severe or unseasonal weather and an increasingly large number of catastrophes’ related to this are one of the hazards foreseen by scientists if emissions are not brought down to a level that would forestall dangerous climate change.
Another extreme weather event that could have severe repercussions to human health and safety would be heat waves, an event that a new statistical analysis released by NASA scientists suggests could become more and more likely.
Summers are becoming hotter on the northern hemisphere and in the United States, the Midwest states are in the grip of an intense heat wave that according to James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies is likely the consequence of global warming.
"This summer, people are seeing extreme heat and agricultural impacts," Mr. Hansen says. "We're asserting that this is causally connected to global warming, and in this paper we present the scientific evidence for that."
Mr. Hansen is referring to an analysis done by him and his colleagues on mean summer temperatures since 1951. They found that “extremely hot” summers are becoming a more and more common experience.
“Extremely hot” is defined as a mean summer temperature experienced by less than one percent of Earth’s land area between 1951 and 1980, the base period of the study.
Since 2006, about 10 percent of land area across the Northern Hemisphere experience summer temperatures that fell under the definition of extremely hot. Other regions around the world also have felt the heat of global warming, according to the study. Global maps of temperature anomalies show that heat waves in Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico in 2011, and in the Middle East, Western Asia and Eastern Europe in 2010, fall into the new "extremely hot" category.
“Such anomalies were infrequent in the climate prior to the warming of the past 30 years, so statistics let us say with a high degree of confidence that we would not have had such an extreme anomaly this summer in the absence of global warming," said Mr. Hansen.
He added that this summer as well is shaping up to fall into the new extremely hot category. – EcoSeed Staff