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  • Blog post

    The Science Behind the U.S. Drought

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    Heat and drought continue to blanket the United States, leaving 54 percent of the nation’s pasture and rangeland, 38 percent of its corn crop, and 30 percent of soybeans in “poor” or “very poor” condition. As of the end of June, 55 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate or extreme drought – the most extensive drought in more than half a century (see map from last week’s US Drought Monitor).

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  • Blog post

    U.S. Drought Demonstrates Complexity, Severity of Water Risk

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    As much of the United States continues to suffer through what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has called the country’s most extensive drought in more than 50 years, there is growing concern over how broad and severe the impacts may be. Events like this drought—which are projected to become increasingly common should climate change continue unabated—provide a sharp reminder of how heavily communities and global economies rely on water.

    They also teach another lesson: Natural resource challenges like water scarcity cannot simply be viewed as environmental issues. They are real, material drivers of risk that governments, businesses, and investors must carefully consider in the context of the global economy.

    Share

  • Blog post

    5 Takeaways from NOAA’s New Study on Climate Change and Extreme Events

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    Many people are understandably perplexed at the U.S.’s recent extreme weather events like record heat waves, torrential downpours, droughts, and wildfires. A new report published by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other institutions may finally offer some insight into climate change’s connection to the damaging and costly extreme events that are on the rise.

    Numerous studies have shown that the Earth is warming rapidly, due in large part to human activities. While existing research focuses on climate change’s implications for the intensity and frequency of extreme events like storms and heat waves, due to scientific complexities, most scientists to date have tip-toed around attributing any single event to climate change.

    Until now, that is. Last week, scientists from NOAA, the UK’s Met Office, and other institutions published a special report in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) that attributed a number of recent extreme events to human-induced climate change.

    Share

  • Blog post

    Major News Networks Wake Up to Extreme Weather and Climate Change

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    This summer’s extreme weather events keep on coming—drought, heat waves, wildfires, and more. The major U.S. news networks have been on top of the story.

    ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, and CBS Evening News all covered a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) linking extreme weather events to climate change. The New York Times, CNN, and many other media outlets reported on it, too.

    Notably, Sam Champion, ABC News’s weatherman, took it a step further, saying to Diane Sawyer, “Now is the time we start limiting man-made greenhouse gases.”

    For those of us who work on climate change every day, this call to action isn’t a big surprise. But seeing climate coverage on the network news – including mainstream morning shows like Good Morning America – well, that’s unusual.

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  • Blog post

    More Extreme Weather: Say Hello to Our Changing Climate

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    This post originally appeared on the National Journal's Energy Expert Blog. It was a response to the question "Is global warming causing wild weather?"

    It’s the question on everyone’s minds these days: What’s up with the weather?

    The answer is increasingly clear: It’s our changing climate.

    The trends we are currently experiencing– a warmer world with more intense, extreme weather events– could not be clearer. It’s exactly what climate scientists and their models have, for many years now, forecast global warming will bring.

    Evidence of a Changing Climate

    July 2011 to June 2012 was the warmest 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S. Globally, June 2011 was the 316th month in a row that posted a higher temperature than the 20th-century average. Spring 2012, not to be outdone, was the hottest on record in the U.S. And record drought in the Southwest has helped fuel the wildfires that have already consumed about two million acres this year. (See our recent post on forest fires and climate change.)

    Share

  • Blog post

    Colorado Forest Fires and the Climate Connection

    This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

    While many Americans set up camp to watch fireworks on July 4th, those in the Western U.S. were not as lucky. Firefighters didn’t get a holiday reprieve as they battled ongoing forest fires in Colorado. Plus, at least 40 cities in the state as well as many in neighboring states cancelled their fireworks shows due to the high risk of sparking new fires.

    Disappointed fireworks fans were the least of the region’s worries, though. Colorado is experiencing its worst wildfire season in a decade, with half a dozen lives lost, more than 600 homes consumed, and more than 270 square miles (more than 10 times the size of Manhattan) burned so far. And the state isn’t alone: Wildfires have already struck across 137 square miles of Wyoming and 380 square miles of Montana as well.

    Several news accounts have blamed the Colorado fires on lightning. While that may have been the trigger, much research suggests that this summer’s widespread destruction is not an anomaly, but rather part of an ominous, ongoing trend.

    Share

  • Charts & Graphs

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The Science Behind the U.S. Drought

This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

Heat and drought continue to blanket the United States, leaving 54 percent of the nation’s pasture and rangeland, 38 percent of its corn crop, and 30 percent of soybeans in “poor” or “very poor” condition. As of the end of June, 55 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate or extreme drought – the most extensive drought in more than half a century (see map from last week’s US Drought Monitor).

Share

U.S. Drought Demonstrates Complexity, Severity of Water Risk

This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

As much of the United States continues to suffer through what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has called the country’s most extensive drought in more than 50 years, there is growing concern over how broad and severe the impacts may be. Events like this drought—which are projected to become increasingly common should climate change continue unabated—provide a sharp reminder of how heavily communities and global economies rely on water.

They also teach another lesson: Natural resource challenges like water scarcity cannot simply be viewed as environmental issues. They are real, material drivers of risk that governments, businesses, and investors must carefully consider in the context of the global economy.

Share

5 Takeaways from NOAA’s New Study on Climate Change and Extreme Events

This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

Many people are understandably perplexed at the U.S.’s recent extreme weather events like record heat waves, torrential downpours, droughts, and wildfires. A new report published by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other institutions may finally offer some insight into climate change’s connection to the damaging and costly extreme events that are on the rise.

Numerous studies have shown that the Earth is warming rapidly, due in large part to human activities. While existing research focuses on climate change’s implications for the intensity and frequency of extreme events like storms and heat waves, due to scientific complexities, most scientists to date have tip-toed around attributing any single event to climate change.

Until now, that is. Last week, scientists from NOAA, the UK’s Met Office, and other institutions published a special report in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) that attributed a number of recent extreme events to human-induced climate change.

Share

Major News Networks Wake Up to Extreme Weather and Climate Change

This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

This summer’s extreme weather events keep on coming—drought, heat waves, wildfires, and more. The major U.S. news networks have been on top of the story.

ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, and CBS Evening News all covered a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) linking extreme weather events to climate change. The New York Times, CNN, and many other media outlets reported on it, too.

Notably, Sam Champion, ABC News’s weatherman, took it a step further, saying to Diane Sawyer, “Now is the time we start limiting man-made greenhouse gases.”

For those of us who work on climate change every day, this call to action isn’t a big surprise. But seeing climate coverage on the network news – including mainstream morning shows like Good Morning America – well, that’s unusual.

Share

More Extreme Weather: Say Hello to Our Changing Climate

This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

This post originally appeared on the National Journal's Energy Expert Blog. It was a response to the question "Is global warming causing wild weather?"

It’s the question on everyone’s minds these days: What’s up with the weather?

The answer is increasingly clear: It’s our changing climate.

The trends we are currently experiencing– a warmer world with more intense, extreme weather events– could not be clearer. It’s exactly what climate scientists and their models have, for many years now, forecast global warming will bring.

Evidence of a Changing Climate

July 2011 to June 2012 was the warmest 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S. Globally, June 2011 was the 316th month in a row that posted a higher temperature than the 20th-century average. Spring 2012, not to be outdone, was the hottest on record in the U.S. And record drought in the Southwest has helped fuel the wildfires that have already consumed about two million acres this year. (See our recent post on forest fires and climate change.)

Share

Colorado Forest Fires and the Climate Connection

This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

While many Americans set up camp to watch fireworks on July 4th, those in the Western U.S. were not as lucky. Firefighters didn’t get a holiday reprieve as they battled ongoing forest fires in Colorado. Plus, at least 40 cities in the state as well as many in neighboring states cancelled their fireworks shows due to the high risk of sparking new fires.

Disappointed fireworks fans were the least of the region’s worries, though. Colorado is experiencing its worst wildfire season in a decade, with half a dozen lives lost, more than 600 homes consumed, and more than 270 square miles (more than 10 times the size of Manhattan) burned so far. And the state isn’t alone: Wildfires have already struck across 137 square miles of Wyoming and 380 square miles of Montana as well.

Several news accounts have blamed the Colorado fires on lightning. While that may have been the trigger, much research suggests that this summer’s widespread destruction is not an anomaly, but rather part of an ominous, ongoing trend.

Share

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