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US Report: Changing Climate Likely to Lead to More Extreme Weather Events in North America

A relatively small shift in the mean produces a larger change in the number of extremes for both temperature and precipitation (top right, bottom right). Click to enlarge.

The US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research has released a scientific synthesis and assessment report that provides the first comprehensive analysis of observed and projected changes in weather and climate extremes in North America and US territories.

Among the major findings reported in this assessment are that droughts, heavy downpours, excessive heat, and intense hurricanes are likely to become more commonplace as humans continue to increase the atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) previously evaluated extreme weather and climate events on a global basis in this same context. However, there has not been a specific assessment across North America prior to this report.

The report is based on scientific evidence that a warming world will be accompanied by changes in the intensity, duration, frequency, and geographic extent of weather and climate extremes.

Global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced increases in heat-trapping gases, according to the report. Many types of extreme weather and climate event changes have been observed during this time period and continued changes are projected for this century. Specific future projections include:

  • Abnormally hot days and nights, along with heat waves, are very likely to become more common. Cold nights are very likely to become less common.

  • Sea ice extent is expected to continue to decrease and may even disappear in the Arctic Ocean in summer in coming decades.

  • Precipitation, on average, is likely to be less frequent but more intense.

  • Droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe in some regions.

  • Hurricanes will likely have increased precipitation and wind.

  • The strongest cold-season storms in the Atlantic and Pacific are likely to produce stronger winds and higher extreme wave heights.

The impacts of changes in extremes depend on both changes in climate and ecosystem and societal vulnerability. The degree of impacts are due, in large part, to the capacity of society to respond. Vulnerability is shaped by factors such as population dynamics and economic status as well as adaptation measures such as appropriate building codes, disaster preparedness, and water use efficiency. Some short-term actions taken to lessen the risk from extreme events can lead to increases in vulnerability to even larger extremes. For example, moderate flood control measures on a river can stimulate development in a now “safe” floodplain, only to see those new structures damaged when a very large flood occurs.

—“Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate”

The CCSP also released another one of the 21 synthesis and assessment products in the series, this one a preliminary review of adaptation strategies for climate-sensitive ecosystems and resources.

This report finds that climate change can increase the impact of traditional stressors (such as pollution or habitat destruction) on ecosystems, and that many existing best management practices to reduce these stressors can also be applied to reduce the impacts of climate change.

For example, current efforts to reverse habitat destruction by restoring vegetation along streams also increase ecosystem resilience to climate change impacts, such as greater amounts of pollutants and sediments from more intense rainfall.

The CCSP was established in 2002 to provide science-based knowledge to manage the risks and opportunities of changes in the climate and related environmental systems. The program is responsible for coordinating and integrating the research of 13 federal agencies on climate and global change.




Paging Ric Romero.

Why don't we take the amount of money the government spends of a run of the mill natural desator and do something proactive with it.

Give some to GM to pay for the ramp up of the Volt.
Give some to Toyota and require the 99mpg prius
Give some to Phoenix motorcars and require them to get in gear and have production up next year.
Give some to Altair,A123, they can ramp up
Give 5K to anyone that takes thier hybrid to CalCars

I'm sure I've left a few off, but you get the picture.



Politicians, by definition, cannot and are not allowed to be proactive. They have to wait for voters repeated demands to act (after the fact).

Any politician who would dare, to increase government revenues from a new fossil duel carbon tax, to reduce income tax, compensate greener car buyers and to fix the roads and bridges, is sure to lose the next election.

That's how bright we (the average voters) are.


You could see these predictions becoming true as we speak. California is under drought condition right now, with an early start of fire season. Iowa and Illinois had severe floods, extending down to the Mississippi river.

Another category five hurricane striking anywhere in the United States would do massive damage. This is just a matter of time.

There are no "safe places" anymore unless we control greenhouse warming.


I'd like someone to explain why it is that no one cares anymore about global warming? What is with these people? Don't they know we're all going to die, drown, disintegrate, dissolve because of all the bad CO2 in our air? This is not a joke.

ABC/Washington Post polls show Global Warming as rating 0.0 interest.

And the last poll the same. What, are people stupid?


What, are people stupid?

Nah...they just recognize a scam when they see one.


Not stupid ... just more worried about tomorrow than 10 to 100 years from now.

Well Matthew, aren't you the uber optimist - oil cornucopian and global warming skeptic ... you must sleep well at night with nothing to worry about. As for scams, there's a lot more money in climate change denying than there is in research.



You cut grass before my feet, I was about to write exactly what you wrote. Matthew should team with Stan Peterson in Global warming and peak oil denial or those who believe that the center of mother earth is a giant ball of oil just because they like the idea...


Well Matthew, aren't you the uber optimist - oil cornucopian and global warming skeptic ... you must sleep well at night with nothing to worry about.

If only! I don't worry about climate change or peak oil, but I do lay up at night worrying about the excessive influence of the "Repent! The end is near!" crowd on policymakers.


I love the word "Likely", it means so much!


"Nah...they just recognize a scam when they see one."

Remember how they laughed at Noah? All the smart ones who didn't believe. The godless will be swept away and the purified new life will begin. Read the signs.

John Taylor

@ hotundrcholer The Noah fable has a lot to teach us.

We see the truth is given little consideration when a total fib is more convenient to believe.

We see that those who fail to look at the warnings and plan ahead are derided by future generations for their eventual demise.

We see that huge numbers of otherwise intelligent people will believe total stupidity despite overwhelming evidence that the story is a sham and impossible.

So, just as many refuse to admit that Noah's flood was embellished from an origin of a river barge and farm animals in a local flood, despite overwhelming evidence...
So many refuse to admit that oil is a problem despite a similar huge and overwhelming body of evidence.

Can you tell truth from fiction by looking at the evidence?
Is fossil fuel use, and especially oil use a problem for lots of reasons? (global warming, land use destruction, acid rain, destructive mining, oil spills, smog, etc.)

The question is, will you do something? or be derided by your grandchildren? if any of them survive?


Matthew: I may not agree with you, but at least you have a sense of humor. Doomers give me a swift pain too. I can see where someone who doesn't buy into GW could be concerned about spending money to reduce CO2 (I would consider it a form of insurance), but I fail to see where a response to peak oil could be anything but beneficial to most countries (are you from Alberta?). If you are American then the same reactions are required to keep you from going bankrupt (which doesn't do anyone any good).

Andrey Levin

It is only beginning of freakish weather. PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) switched to cooling mode (it stayed in warm mode from 1977 till 2007), so expect pronounced cooling trend for 20-30 years, especially for N.America. Historically, climate cooling was associated with powerful storms, failed harvests, and prolonged regional droughts.

One more thing: all seasonal weather predictions are off the table: everything will be different from last 30-years pattern.


I do somewhat believe in global warming but the thing is people in the world are in a recession right now with high food and oil prices and probably unemployment is at an all time high so global warming is not the top of people's priority at the moment. What I hate about disaster advocates is all you guys can do is just look at people and tell people what to do rather than come up with a solution to the problem. What I think is the solution is algae, fuel cell solar switch grass ethanol and High mpg cars would do the trick. In the end lowering the cost of living for the populace would get people of thinking of other things like global warming since they no longer have to think of day by day survival. Not prioritizing day by day survival and something like "global warming" is just plain stupid. In reality you won't have those grandchildren you always wanted because your dead already.


[...] but I fail to see where a response to peak oil could be anything but beneficial to most countries (are you from Alberta?). If you are American then the same reactions are required to keep you from going bankrupt (which doesn't do anyone any good).

I'm from I have no real connection to the oil industry. I do have an uncle who used to work for Exxon, but he's been retired for some years.

I have no problem in coming up with solutions to peak oil, and to harmful emissions as well - that's why I read GCC, after all. The problem I have is that many of the solutions proposed, particularly by commenters here, are worse than the disease. I'd like to see a gradual, rational transition to cleaner modes of doing business, which to me means investing in nuclear *and* renewable energy, EVs, BEVs, *and* fuel cells where they make sense, and so on.


Even if Global warming created "fireball spewing hurricanes", humans will continue to burn fossil fuels.

We love the life style of convenient energy from coal and others.
Human nature will not stop until the last piece of black crap will be pulled from the ground.

To whatever extent, Global warming will occur.

So, Al Gore needs to declare Global warming will occur, and go home. His advice?; move to a safer location.


"probably unemployment is at an all time high so global warming is not the top of people's priority..."

You can go Canada - they have 100,000 high pay job openings not all in tar sands but related. Canada is world's richest country now. But people will still be stupid and not remember how G*d got mad and drowned everyone for too much s*x, violence and party. That's coming soon. Go ahead don't believe - your dead and Al Gore stays in heaven. Watch the signs.

Isn't it wonderful that we have a scientific report issued by people whose professed job is "coordinating and evaluating government positions"... ie a bunch government bureaucrats who aren't scientists ...
wtite a scionce paper, they are unqualifiesd to write...

and you guys swallow the swill they generate.

The IPCC likes it, because that is EXACTLY the way the IPCC functions.

The IPCC recruit 2500 scientists as reviewers, and then ignore them, except toput their names on the masthead.

They hand 60 or so selected "scientists" the job of setting out to research and write a science report, then they ignore them, except they will eventually publish something or other. That document will never be widely read and that research widely distributed.

And long before that research is done, and at least a year before the science drafts are written down, another group, "the real group", of governmental representatives, ie non scientist appointees, write and publish the Conclusions for Policy Makers.

This document will purport to summarize what the unfinsihed research will say, or not say, a couple of years later, when its finsihed.

And y'all see nothing wrong with that "scientific method".


anon: get a name.


... and I thought I foamed at the mouth ...

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