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3 Extreme Weather Events in 2016 'Could Not Have Happened' Without Climate Change, Scientists Say

Three of 2016's extreme weather events would have been impossible without human-caused climate change, according to new research.

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published a collection of papers Wednesday focused on examining the effect of climate change on 27 extreme weather events last year. The research found that climate change was a "significant driver" in 21 of these weather disasters, and that three events—the temperatures making 2016 the hottest year on record, the heat wave over Asia in the spring, and a "blob" of extremely warm water in the Pacific—"could not have happened" without climate change.


Scientists say the certainty in this language is striking for peer-reviewed research, which is extremely cautious in attributing weather events to climate change. "I am not necessarily convinced that these are the first ever in the literature, but these are some of the stronger statements that I have seen," report editor and NOAA climate scientist Stephanie Herring said at a press conference yesterday.

As reported by InsideClimate News:

While five previous editions included research showing that climate change made dozens of heat waves, droughts and storms more likely or more severe, none had determined that the events could not have occurred under "natural" conditions.

"The conversation needs to change," Jeff Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, said at a press conference Wednesday. "These are not just new odds. These are new weather extremes that are made possible by a new climate."

For a deeper dive:

New York Times, Washington Post, Axios, National Geographic, E&E, InsideClimate News, Deutsche Welle, Mashable, Phys.org

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