by Staff Writers
Potsdam, Germany (SPX) Apr 02, 2012
"The question is whether these weather extremes are coincidental or aresult of climate change," says Dim Coumou, lead author of the article.
The scientists base their analysis on three pillars: basic physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations. Elementary physical principles already suggest that a warming of the atmosphere leads to more extremes. Forexample, warm air can hold more moisture until it rains out. Secondly, clear statistical trends can be found in temperature and precipitation data, the scientists explain. And thirdly, detailed computer simulations also confirm the relation between warming and records in both temperature and precipitation.
"Single weather extremes are often related to regional processes, like a blocking high pressure system or natural phenomena like El Nino," says Stefan Rahmstorf, co-author of the article and chair of the Earth System Analysis department at PIK. "These are complex processes that we are investigating further. But now these processes unfold against the background of climatic warming. That can turn an extreme event into a record-breaking event."