New scientific research has proven what many people have already suspected, extreme weather, such as the drought that us scorching the western United States are the floods that devastated Pakistan in 2010, is becoming much more common.
Climate scientists in Germany have noticed that there has been “exceptional number of summer weather extremes, some causing massive damage to society” since the year 2000. The research has shown that “blocking patterns” – where hot or wet weather becomes stuck in a region for weeks, thus causing things such as heatwaves or floods – have more than doubled in summers over the last decade or so.
The scientists decided to examine the high-level jet stream winds that dominate the weather at mid-latitudes by analyzing wind data that had been gathered by satellites, ships, weather stations, and meteorological balloons over the last 35 years. They discovered that blocking patterns have been happening more frequently.
“Since 2000, we have seen a cluster of these events. When these high-altitude waves become quasi-stationary, then we see more extreme weather at the surface,” said Dr Dim Coumou, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “It is especially noticeable for heat extremes.”
The rise in blocking patterns correlates with the extra heat that has been delivered to the Arctic by climate change. The researchers argue that there is good reason to suspect that there is a link between the two, as jet streams are driven by the difference in temperature between the poles and the equator.
Professor Ted Shepherd, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, says that the link between blocking patterns and extreme weather is well established. “Circulation changes can have much more non-linear effects. They may do nothing for a while, then there might be some kind of regime change,” he said.
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