In recent times, the severity of floods, droughts, and storms has reached a whole other level. Initially, it seemed as though this was a subjective feeling, but as time passes by it is becoming apparent that these disasters are actually occurring at a higher rate.
Scientists have created climate models that were able to predict a rise in precipitation and flooding. Furthermore, scientists have been able to predict changes like these for years now, and this is important for the future battles against extreme climate change.
Recently there has been an extreme rise in the amount of rainfall in the United States, which forced US-based researchers to take a more active approach when analyzing occurrences such as this one. The simplest explanation for the rise in rainfall is the rise in temperatures. Because of the higher temperatures, larger amounts of water evaporate resulting in more rain.
But the increase in rainfall was not the main issue. Due to the increase in downpours river levels started to rise. A known case of this occurred in Baton Rouge, La when the Amite River rose to 46.2 feet which is a full five feet higher than the previously recorded height. The floods that followed the downpour were responsible for more than 30,000 people being forced to leave their homes.
Are Humans Responsible for All of This?
Studies conducted by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency) concluded that human-caused climate change was responsible for a staggering 40 percent increase in extreme rainfall. Another study found that there has been an increase in extreme precipitation related events in all regions of the United States. All of these extreme events ranked in the 99th percentile for intensity. What is even more interesting is that this is not some new event. This has been going on since the 1950s, but scientists only now understand the short and long-term effects that events like these have.
On the other hand, the increase in temperatures in California has caused droughts at a scale which has not been previously recorded. Again, the main culprits here are the greenhouse gases and their effects on the Earth’s atmosphere.
The blizzards that covered the Sierra Nevada in 2017 are not enough to cancel out the effects of the recent droughts. In fact, it will take a few more years of constant blizzards of that scale to make any sort of significant impact.
Consequently, if temperatures continue to rise even more droughts should be expected. The rains occurring in other parts of the US cannot alleviate this, unfortunately.
Fortunately not all extreme weather events are connected directly to humans. These events occurred before people started producing emissions and releasing them into the atmosphere. Hurricanes for one are not a direct result of climate change.
So, researchers might not be able to determine whether the next hurricane has been caused by the actions of humans, but they can, with a growing degree of certainty, claim that these events are occurring more frequently.