Know how climate change causes extreme weather around globe

Bhubaneswar: The impact of climate change that leads to several changes in weather patterns results in intense heatwave, floods and wildfires around the globe. The extreme weather caused by the climate change affects the lives on Earth every year.

According to researchers, there are four ways through which climate change is affecting the weather.

1. Heatwaves: To comprehend the consequences of slight variations in average temperatures, envision a bell-shaped curve with the lowest and highest temperatures at each end, and most of the temperatures in the middle. If there is a slight shift in the center, it causes more of the curve to touch the extremes, resulting in more frequent and severe heatwaves. This highlights the fact that even small changes can have a significant impact.

This year, the maximum temperatures in Odisha crossed 40 degree Celsius in the beginning of Summer, leading to power outage and water shortage.

The MeT office estimates extreme heatwave in Odisha till April 15. The mercury is likely to rise further in subsequent days during the Summer worsening the situation in the state.

According to weathermen, heatwaves can become more severe and prolonged due to the presence of a weather phenomenon known as a heat dome. In areas of high pressure, hot air is pushed down and trapped, causing temperatures to rise across entire continents. When the jet stream, comprised of swift currents of air, is distorted by a storm, it’s similar to pulling on one end of a skipping rope and seeing the ripples move along it. These waves cause everything to slow down, and weather systems can become trapped in the same regions for days.

India recently experienced consecutive heatwaves. One theory suggests that higher temperatures in the Arctic are causing the jet stream to slow down, increasing the likelihood of heat domes. The Arctic has been warming more than four times faster than the global average in recent decades, and in June 2020, average temperatures in Siberia were up to 10°C above normal, resulting in a new record of 38°C in the Arctic circle, leading to devastating wildfires and sea ice loss. As the La Niña climate phenomenon, which has been suppressing global temperatures, has ended, scientists warn that 2023 could be even warmer.

2. Droughts: Establishing a direct connection between climate change and specific drought occurrences is difficult. Water availability is influenced by various factors, not only temperature and precipitation.

However, as heatwaves become more frequent and severe, droughts are expected to intensify. With less precipitation occurring between heatwaves, the soil’s moisture and water supplies deplete more rapidly. Consequently, the ground heats up faster, warming the air above and contributing to more extreme heat. Additionally, the demand for water for human use and agriculture exacerbates the strain on water supplies, compounding the scarcity of water.

3. Wildfires: While human activities can sometimes trigger wildfires, natural factors can also significantly contribute to them. Climate change’s cycle of prolonged and intense heat draws out moisture from the vegetation and ground, resulting in extremely dry conditions that serve as fuel for fires. These fires can spread at an alarming pace, particularly in regions experiencing high temperatures.

Recently, the Chilean government declared three regions at high risk for forest fires following several weeks of sweltering heat. New South Wales in Australia is presently dealing with its most severe fires since the 2019/20 “Black Summer,” as powerful winds and scorching temperatures fuel the rapid spread of fires. During the previous summer, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, and Albania witnessed catastrophic wildfires, with thousands of residents being evacuated, and several hundred people reported to have died.

In 2021, Canada was hit by heatwaves that sparked fires so intense and explosive that they generated their own weather system, producing pyrocumulonimbus clouds. These massive clouds subsequently created lightning, igniting more fires. Climate Central, an independent organization of journalists and scientists, reports that wildfires larger than 10,000 acres (40 sq km) are currently seven times more common in western America than in the 1970s.

4. Extreme rainfall: In the regular weather pattern, hot weather leads to moisture and water vapour in the air, which condenses into droplets and eventually results in rain. However, as the temperature increases due to climate change, more water vapour is present in the atmosphere. This causes heavier rainfall and more droplets, which can occur in a shorter period and over a smaller region.

For instance, in 2022, India, Spain and eastern Australia were affected by floods. Brisbane received nearly 80% of its yearly rainfall in just six days, while Sydney received more than its average annual rainfall in a little over three months. Peter Gleick, a water expert from the US National Academy of Sciences, links these rainfall events to climate change effects elsewhere. As areas of drought expand, such as in Siberia and western US, the water falls in smaller areas and intensifies flooding.

The world’s weather has always been variable, but climate change is causing greater fluctuations. Limiting human impact on the atmosphere is now not the only challenge, but adapting to and tackling the extreme weather events we already face.

{Note: This story is a part of ‘Punascha Pruthibi – One Earth. Unite for It’, an awareness campaign by Sambad Digital.}


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