The connection between severe weather and climate change is now more evident than ever

Climate Fingerprints: How Michael Wehner and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are Helping Us Understand the Link Between Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change

Michael Wehner, a senior staff scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, is leading an effort to calculate and disseminate climate fingerprints within days or weeks of extreme weather events. By quickly connecting the dots between extreme weather events and greenhouse gases, people are made aware that climate change is a pressing issue in the present, not just a problem for future generations.

Recent efforts have focused on examining the additional impacts of these extreme weather events, rather than just calculating the increased odds. For example, during Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Houston in 2017, researchers found that there was 19% more rainfall due to climate change. This translated to 14% more flooded areas and a quadrupling of the financial losses, ultimately totaling $90 billion. These findings highlight the urgency and severity of the impact of climate change on extreme weather events, providing valuable insights for residents and policymakers.

In mid-April of this year, when Dubai experienced massive downpours that led to up to 10 inches of rain falling in less than two days, researchers at WWA immediately analyzed the data. A week after the rain, they reported that such an event had become twice as likely in today’s climate. The study also examined additional impacts such as damage to infrastructure and displacement of people caused by extreme weather events like floods and hurricanes. This research provides valuable insights into how climate change is affecting our world today and what we can do about it.

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