Computer models of how our world will react to climate change have long predicted extreme and shifting weather patterns. More heavy rains in some areas, crippling drought in others. A new study, published this week in the journal Nature, compared recorded precipitation to predicted precipitation - and confirmed we're changing our weather.
Flood marker in flooded field.
Scientists studying climate change use highly sophisticated
computer models to predict likely effects. For accuracy, these
models are checked against what we see happening in the real world.
In this study, researchers compared what 14 different climate
models predicted would happen with actual documented changes in
snowfall and rainfall. What they found was a remarkably close
match. The conclusion - human caused global warming is changing
As Peter Stott, one of the report's authors and a climate
scientist at the University of Reading, told
the Times, "The paper is saying there is a significant human
influence on global rainfall patterns and this includes an increase
of precipitation north of 50 degrees northern latitude, an area
that includes the UK".
Rain and drought
In effect, human induced climate change is creating a stronger
water cycle - pushing water vapour from the hottest parts of our
planet towards the poles. So, wet areas are getting wetter and dry
areas are getting dryer. The changes correspond to what's
predicted, but may be even worse than previously thought.
From the study:
"The observed changes, which are larger than estimated from
model simulations, may have already had significant effects on
ecosystems, agriculture and human health in regions that are
sensitive to changes in precipitation, such as the Sahel [region in
-- "Detection of human influence on twentieth-century
precipitation trends", Zhang et al, 2007, Nature.
So while millions of people in places like the UK and parts of
China are suffering from flooding, heat wave fuelled forests fires
plague places like Greece and the western United States.
Cool the planet
While, it's still not possible to connect a specific weather
event to climate change, the study published this week in the
journal Nature is further confirmation that the more fossil fuels
we burn, the worse it is going to get.
And although the climate emergency has already begun, solutions
are also at hand. What we need is an
energy revolution to get our global warming emissions under
control while still leaving room for economic growth.
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