Heat waves and extreme rainfall in the past decade are probably linked to global warming, according to a study by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
“For some types of extreme, notably heat waves but also precipitation extremes, there is now strong evidence linking specific events or an increase in their number to the human influence on climate,” the scientists wrote in a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The past decade included Europe’s hottest summer in at least 500 years in 2003, according to the scientists. 2010 brought western Russia’s hottest summer in centuries and record rain in Pakistan and Australia, they wrote. Japan and some U.S. states registered all-time-high rainfall last year, while the Yangtze River basin in China had a record drought.
Basic physics exercises suggest that warming of the atmosphere leads to more extremes, according to the institute. For example, warm air can hold more moisture that may fall as rain, the scientists wrote. Computer simulations confirm the relation between warming and record temperatures and rainfall, the study showed.
The recent high incidence of weather records is “no longer normal,” according to Dim Coumou, the lead author of the study.