Causes of observed changes in extremes and projections of future changes

AMS Citation:
Gutowski, W. J., and Coauthors, 2008: Causes of observed changes in extremes and projections of future changes. Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate, CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.3, Synthesis and Assessment Product, U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Washington, 81-116.
Date:2008-06-01
Resource Type:chapter
Title:Causes of observed changes in extremes and projections of future changes
Abstract: Key Findings: Attribution of Observed Changes: Changes in some weather and climate extremes are attributable to human-induced emission of green house gases. Human-induced warming has likely caused much of the average temperature increase in North America over the past 50 years. This affects changes in temperature extremes. Heavy precipitation events averaged over North America have increased over the past 50 years, consistent with the observed increases in atmospheric water vapor, which have been associated with human-induced increases in greenhouse gases. It is very likely that the human-induced increase in greenhouse gases has contributed to the increase in sea surface temperatures in the hurricane formation regions. Over the past 50 years there has been a strong statistical connection between tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures and Atlantic hurricane activity as measured by the Power Dissipation Index (which combines storm intensity, duration, and frequency). This evidence suggests a human contribution to recent hurricane activity. However, a confident assessment of human influence on hurricanes will require further studies using models and observations, with emphasis on distinguishing natural from human-induced changes in hurricane activity through their influence on factors such as historical sea surface temperatures, wind shear, and atmospheric vertical stability.
Peer Review:Non-refereed
Copyright Information:Copyright 2008 U.S. Climate Change Research Program.
OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d7w37xnk
Author(s):
  • William Gutowski
  • Gabriele Hegerl
  • Greg Holland - NCAR/UCAR
  • Thomas Knutson
  • Linda Mearns - NCAR/UCAR
  • Ronald Stouffer
  • Peter Webster
  • Michael Wehner
  • Francis Zwiers
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