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Home » Q&A: What role does climate change play in recent extreme weather events?

Q&A: What role does climate change play in recent extreme weather events?

Q&A: What role does climate change play in recent extreme weather events?

From blistering heatwaves to unprecedented flooding – it’s already proving to be a summer of extremes

We are experiencing a summer of weather extremes encapsulating heatwaves, wild fires and intense rainfall followed by flash floods.
This has come in the form of blistering heatwaves throughout the Northern Hemisphere – the most destructive being the “heat dome” which sat over a vast area of North America – and unprecedented flooding events in Germany and China causing widespread devastation.

Nearer home, we have experienced a heatwave with temperatures breaching 30 degrees on successive days in the UK and Ireland; prompting unprecedented extreme heat warnings from Met Éireann and the UK Met Office.

Such events are becoming not only more frequent but also more ferocious. There is every indication this is a scenario predicted to occur due to ever increasing global heating. But blaming the accelerating climate crisis in all instances is a step too far.

We do know, for instance, that warmer air holds more moisture, which means more water will be released eventually, though natural variations in rainfall and heat mean they could be an example of a weather extreme that could have been feasible in the pre-industrial climate.

Floods always happen, and they are like random events, ie rolling the dice. But we’ve changed the odds on rolling the dice, scientists point out. But without a specific attribution study it is impossible to know whether weather events are linked to climate change.

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