More Wild Weather to Come If Climate Change Goals Not Met

From - February 14, 2018

More Wild Weather to Come If Climate Change Goals Not Met

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 14, 2018 -- Extreme weather such as severe flooding and droughts will become much more common if the targets in the Paris Agreement on climate change are not reached, researchers warn.

The agreement seeks to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. However, the specific commitments made by individual countries who signed it fall 1 degree Celsius short.

That small difference could increase the chances of extreme wet and dry weather events, according to a study published Feb. 14 in the journal Science Advances.

The researchers, from Stanford University in California, used computer models to estimate the risk for extreme weather events under two scenarios:

"The really big increases in record-setting event probability are reduced if the world achieves the aspirational targets rather than the actual commitments," researcher Noah Diffenbaugh said in a Stanford news release. He's a professor earth system science in the university's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

"At the same time, even if those aspirational targets are reached, we still will be living in a climate that has substantially greater probability of unprecedented events than the one we are in now," he added.

For instance, a 2- to 3-degree temperature rise would result in a more than fivefold increase in record-breaking warm nights over about half of Europe and more than a fourth of East Asia, the study predicts. That temperature change also would result in more than a threefold increase in record-breaking wet days over more than a third of North America, Europe and East Asia, according to the study.

A 2- to 3-degree temperature increase would bring more hot days, fewer and milder cold nights and shorter freezes, the study predicts.

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