Science Underestimated Climate Impacts On Everyday Heat And Weather, Stanford Scientist Says

The heating climate will likely have greater impacts on extreme heat and weather than history suggests or science has predicted, according to a climate scientist who studies the relationship between climate and weather events.
Stanford University Earth Systems Professor compared the scientific community’s early predictions to the actual occurrence of droughts, heat waves, floods and wildfires over the last decade.
“Global warming is actually causing a more rapid intensification of heat waves and heavy rainfall events than what we would expect just looking at the historical trends,” Diffenbaugh says in a new video released by Stanford University. “So what this means is that going forward the risks are actually higher than what we would infer just from the historical trends.”
Climate scientists have relied on the historical record to predict future events.
“The problem is that climate change has been so steep in so many areas of the world that we now have a false sense of the odds of record-breaking hot events and weather,” he says. “If we only rely on those observations, we find that for record hot events and record wet events our framework is actually too conservative.”
This has happened, in part, because of the global heating that occurs in the time that passes between a prediction and its verification, Diffenbaugh writes in a study he published March 18 in the journal Science Advances.
“These discrepancies are most explained by increases in climate forcing between the attribution and verification periods, suggesting that 21st-century global warming has substantially increased the probability of unprecedented hot and wet events,” he writes.
So if scientists continue to predict the future based on the past, they may continue to underestimate climate impacts to come.
Watch Diffenbaugh’s video:

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