Going to Extremes: Is Global Warming causing Weather Weirding? Steve Vavrus Senior Scientist Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research

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1 Going to Extremes: Is Global Warming causing Weather Weirding? Steve Vavrus Senior Scientist Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research

2 Global Warming Trend: past century

3 Global Warming Trend: past millennium, next century o C

4 CO2 Trend: past 800,000 years

5 Temperature Trends since 1950

6 Ecosystems: Bird Populations Impacts of Extreme Weather Storm Water Management Agriculture: 2012 Drought Weather Variability: 2012 Spring Human Health: Hurricane Katrina Infrastructure: 2008 Floods

7 June 2008 Floods in Southern Wisconsin

8

9

10 Are weather extremes becoming more common/intense?

11 U.S. Climate Extremes Index Measure of total U.S. area affected by extreme weather Variables: Hot weather, Cold weather, Drought, Heavy rainfall Period of record:

12 Annual Average:

13 Annual Average: Year-to-Date (Jan Oct)

14 Trend in Daytime Temperature

15 Trend in Daytime Temperature Trend in Nighttime Temperature

16 Trend in Daytime Temperature Trend in Nighttime Temperature Trend in Heavy Rainfall

17 Trend in Daytime Temperature Trend in Nighttime Temperature Trend in Heavy Rainfall Trend in Soil Moisture (Drought)

18 Nights per year below 0ºF Less extreme cold almost everywhere, especially in northwestern WI Kucharik et al. (2010)

19 Days per year below 0ºF Days per year above 90ºF Less extreme cold almost everywhere, especially in northwestern WI No clear trend in extreme heat Kucharik et al. (2010)

20

21 Dr. Jim Hansen Rolling the Climatic Dice Recent ( normal ) Climate Roll a 1 or a 2 Roll a 3 or a 4 Roll a 5 or a 6 Cool summer Average summer Hot summer

22 Dr. Jim Hansen Loading the Climatic Dice Recent ( normal ) Climate Future Climate Roll a 1 or a 2 Roll a 3 or a 4 Roll a 5 or a 6 Cool summer Average summer Hot summer Roll a 1 Roll a 2 Roll a 3 or a 4 Roll a 5 Roll a 6 Cool summer Average summer Hot summer Very hot summer Extremely hot summer

23 Land Area experiencing Hot, Very Hot, or Extremely Hot Summers (33%) (2-3%) (0.5%) 1980 Northern Hemisphere Hansen et al. (2012), PNAS

24 Summer Temperature Trends since 1980 Only about a 1 o C summer warming trend during the past 30 years (over NH land)

25 How might Climate Change affect Extreme Weather?

26 How might Climate Change affect Extreme Weather?

27 How might Climate Change affect Extreme Weather?

28 Recent European Heat Waves (2003, 2010) 2003: Tens of thousands of deaths (70,000?) Hottest summer on record ( ) 2010: Moscow reaches 100 o Worst heat wave in 1,000 years? Over 10,000 deaths in Moscow alone

29 European 2003 Heat Wave in Perspective Schär et al. (2004)

30 Simulated Changes in Summer Temperatures Past and Future (Switzerland) 2003 Schär et al. (2004)

31 Midwest Heat Wave of 1995 Madison hit 101 o (hottest until this summer) Extremely high humidity 750 heat-related deaths in Chicago Elderly, poor, minorities especially hard hit

32 Midwest Heat Wave of 1995 Madison hit 101 o (hottest until this summer) Extremely high humidity 750 heat-related deaths in Chicago Elderly, poor, minorities especially hard hit 1995 Heat Wave 2012 Heat Wave 2012 Heat Wave -- Madison hit 104 o -- 3 straight 100 o days in Madison, Chicago -- Chicago heat deaths?

33 Midwest Heat Wave of 1995 Madison hit 101 o (hottest until this summer) Extremely high humidity 750 heat-related deaths in Chicago Elderly, poor, minorities especially hard hit 1995 Heat Wave 2012 Heat Wave 2012 Heat Wave -- Madison hit 104 o -- 3 straight 100 o days in Madison, Chicago -- Chicago heat deaths? 18

34 Heat Wave Action Plans.... Saving Lives Implemented in many large (and small) cities across the U.S. since 1990s Calls for specific actions by municipalities when heat waves are forecasted: -- Publicizing heat wave warnings issued by National Weather Service -- Setting up air-conditioned public cooling centers -- Reaching out to most vulnerable populations (elderly, socially isolated, disabled) Make the public aware that hot weather is a deadly serious health risk! Success of Heat Wave Action Plans is still being evaluated, but lots of positive signs (e.g., heat-wave deaths down in Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee) An example of how societal adaptation can reduce the vulnerability to extreme weather

35 Accurate Superstorm Sandy Weather Forecasts Forecasted Track Actual Track Weather Model Forecast 6 Days Ahead

36 Detection and Attribution of Extreme Weather Events

37 Detection and Attribution of Extreme Weather Events Caller: Dr. Vavrus, we d like your opinion on whether [Superstorm Sandy, this summer s heat wave, the record-warm March, last year s Texas drought, etc.] was caused by global warming. Dr. Vavrus: Uh.... Example of an ill-posed question!

38 Detection of an Extreme Weather Event Switzerland summer temperatures ( ) In raw statistical terms, the probability of a summer as hot as 2003 under recent climatic conditions is one in millions! (5 standard deviations warmer than normal) Based on the warmer recent years ( ), the likelihood is still one in 46,000 Suggests that summers like 2003 may represent a different (warmer) climate Schär et al. (2004)

39

40 March 2012 Weather Pattern

41 Detection and Attribution of Extreme Weather Events Attribution: What is the underlying cause of the event? (usually implied to be climate change) Detecting an extreme event is easier than attributing an underlying cause Both detection and attribution are complicated by limited data and a changing climate Is it even possible to relate extreme weather events to climate change? Yes and No No: We can never prove that a certain event occurred because the climate is changing Yes: We can (hopefully) determine how much climate change has loaded the dice

42 Attribution of Extreme Weather Events Fraction of Attributable Risk (FAR): Likelihood that a changing climate is responsible for an extreme weather event FAR = (Probability with climate change) (Probability without climate change) (Probability with climate change) Example: Russian heat wave of 2010 Number of heat records expected in the past decade in a warming climate = 0.5 Number of heat records expected in the past decade in a stationary climate = 0.1 FAR = ( )/0.5 = 0.8 or 80% Therefore, an 80% probability that the record heat in 2010 is due to the warming climate Rahmstorf and Coumou (2011)

43 Projected Warming (Late 21st Century vs. Late 20th Century)

44 Projected Precipitation Changes (Late 21st Century vs. Late 20th Century)

45 Change in (late century) (from average of many global climate models)

46 Types of Weather Extremes: Past and Future Past Future

47 Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) WICCI: Partnership between the UW Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin DNR, with other state groups Goal: Assess and anticipate climate change impacts on specific Wisconsin natural resources, ecosystems and regions; evaluate potential effects on industry, agriculture, tourism, and other human activities; and develop and recommend adaptation strategies

48 WICCI Working Groups Soil Conservation Water Resources Human Health Milwaukee Coldwater Fish Agriculture Adaptation Climate Stormwater Wildlife Plants & Natural Communities Central Sands Hydrology Forestry Coastal Communities Green Bay

49 More Heat is on the Way... 90s Mid Century * 100s *

50 More Heat is on the Way... 90s Mid Century 90s * * More than 2 months over 90 o Late Century 100s 100s About 2 weeks over 100 o * *

51 ...But less Bitter Cold Mid Century Late Century * * Only 3-6 nights per winter below 0 o

52 More Frequent Drought Expected... (by middle 21 st century) Strzepek et al., 2010 (Env. Res. Letters)

53 ... Yet More Heavy Rainfalls Total Precip. +8% 1-inch Rainfalls +18% 2-inch Rainfalls 3-inch Rainfalls +28% +45%

54 Conclusions Changes in extreme weather are occurring, in association with a warming climate Most of the recent trends in extreme weather are consistent with expectations On balance, extreme weather is projected to become more common and intense Impacts of extreme weather are disproportionately large Attributing a cause (e.g., global warming) to extreme events is difficult but not impossible Impacts of extreme weather are NOT just meteorological: societal factors can matter more Extreme weather may change more dramatically than average climate conditions

55 Trends in Very Cold Nights and Very Hot Days, Eastern U.S. is an outlier

56

57

58 Record High Temperatures vs. Record Low Temperatures Meehl et al. (2009), GRL

59 Record High Temperatures vs. Record Low Temperatures (Future Projections) Meehl et al. (2009), GRL

60

61 March The most unusual month of warmth (or cold) in Madison s history! Number of standard deviations from monthly average temperature

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