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    Weather Forecasts Reveal Human Influence on Extreme Weather Events

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    Climate scientists at Oxford University Physics have broken new ground by harnessing sophisticated weather forecasting tools to demonstrate the tangible impacts of human-induced climate change on severe weather events.

    Through meticulous research, the team has not only assessed the exacerbation of specific weather anomalies in the UK and the US but also articulated how certain events are becoming increasingly probable due to global warming.

    In the UK, the investigation into Storm Eunice, which ravaged the region with gusts reaching 122 miles per hour and resulted in 17 fatalities in February 2022, revealed that climate change had augmented the storm’s severity by up to 26%.

    A similar study scrutinizing the devastating heatwave that scorched the US Pacific Northwest in June 2021, causing more than 800 deaths, concluded that human influence had made the heatwave at least eight times more likely. Furthermore, the likelihood of comparable heatwaves is predicted to double every 20 years at the current rate of warming.

    These findings resonate with broader observations that the Earth’s climate system is undeniably shifting towards warmer conditions, as captured by the meticulous monitoring of geoscientists.

    From the depths of the oceans to the upper reaches of the atmosphere, a multitude of instruments captures data that, over 30-year spans, illustrates a clear and present climate evolution. Moreover, modern climate analysis cross-referenced with historical proxies such as tree rings and ice cores reaffirms the warming trend.

    What’s particularly alarming is the correlation between the rise in global temperatures and the surge in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, especially over the last 150 years.

    Globally, surface temperatures have climbed more than 1.5℉ on average since the late 19th century, and in just the past century, sea levels have risen by 8 inches.

    The loss of polar ice, the acidification of our oceans, and a consistent pattern of high-temperature records being shattered only underscore the accelerated rate of climate change.

    The staggering financial and human cost of these extremes is increasingly clear. In the UK, a stark warning has been issued that the expense of dealing with natural disasters driven by extreme weather and climate change could bankrupt the nation by the century’s end. Across the Atlantic, the United States grappled with the economic blow of over US$90 billion in 2023 due to a staggering 28 separate weather and climate disasters.

    Advancements in high-resolution weather forecasting models have permitted researchers like those at Oxford to simulate and predict unprecedented weather events both in a world untouched by human-induced climate change and in a warmer future. This has been a game-changer in quantifying the influence of human behavior on these events.

    The United Nations “AI for Good Summit” in Geneva highlighted the pivotal role of artificial intelligence and machine learning in refining regional forecasting for extreme weather and advancing future climate predictions.

    Professor Myles Allen, leading the Oxford team, emphasized the dual responsibility of weather forecasters in not only warning the public of extreme weather but also explicating the climate change factors influencing such events.

    Professor Allen’s standpoint is clear: “Weather forecasters could—and should—both warn people of extreme weather and explain how it is being affected by climate change.” He further elaborates that climate change doesn’t invariably worsen all weather, as some occurrences, like prolonged winter cold, have become less likely.

    This intersection of climate science and weather forecasting represents a significant stride in understanding and combating the impact of climate change on extreme weather. As climate models grow increasingly precise and integrate cutting-edge technologies, society moves one step closer to mitigating the perils of climate change and protecting future generations from its most destructive manifestations.

    Relevant articles:
    First use of weather forecasts to show human impact on extreme weather is ‘transformational,’ scientists say, Phys.org
    What is the evidence that our present-day climate is changing?, americangeosciences.org

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