Is There a Link Between Extreme Weather and Climate Change?


Extreme weather events, especially heat waves and heavy precipitation (both rain and snow), have been getting more frequent and more intense for several decades. However, when talking about climate change, it is critical to understand that the change in the average of all the events combined is what defines climate change. Consequently, it makes little sense to say that climate change did or did not “cause” a particular weather event. It is accurate, however, to say that climate change increases the risk of extreme weather events occurring.


Assigning Cause

Even though we cannot assign a “cause” to a particular event, there is a lot we can learn by studying how actual events impact local systems, human wellbeing, and economies. Extreme weather events teach us about the risks we face from climate

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change and our current vulnerabilities to future climate change events. Examples such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2010 Russian heat wave, and Nashville’s “1000-year” flood in 2010 tell us

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about how we are able to handle similar extreme weather events and what we need to do to prepare for more events like those in the future.

Source: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions


This article is part of our educational series on Climate Change. See related articles below.