Changes In Extreme Temperature and Precipitation in the Arab Region

by Tim Storer

Extreme weather events have major impacts on societies around the globe, and it is beneficial to have detailed climate data that show trends in extreme temperatures and precipitation. There are currently many areas with inadequate past research, such as the Arab regions in Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In order to help fill this gap, a meeting of several different climate research organizations was held so that data from all the necessary countries could be compiled. Many parts of the dry Arab region are particularly vulnerable to flooding in the case of extreme rain fall, making this an important area of study. Unlike past studies, this research did not collect data from within specific political borders, but grouped areas together based on similar climate characteristics. There were observed trends in overall warming throughout the region, as well as relationships between local temperature and multi-year climate cycles such as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) (Donat et al. 2013). Continue reading

Heat Waves in the United States: Definitions, Patterns, and Trends

by Tim Storer

Heat waves have impacts on a variety of industries and demographics throughout the world, and they are much scientific interest. In the United States, research has been done to study the trends in heat wave intensity and frequency. Unfortunately for the researchers, there have traditionally been many varying definitions of “heat waves,” in previous research, and additional work was required to standardize the data so that it could be analyzed for trends. The varying definitions are due to a multitude of interested parties, such as health researchers measuring heat waves that break a dangerous threshold, versus climate scientists tracking temperatures that are in high percentiles. Having compiled all the different definitions, the recent research showed mostly positive trends in the number of heat wave days per year in most of the United States, with the strongest increases in the Southeast and Great Plains regions (Smith et al. 2013). This approach is especially powerful, because by combining many different measures of heat waves, the study is likely to eliminate oversight that any individual measure may have. Continue reading

Extreme Temperature and Precipitation in the Caribbean Intensifying

by Tim Storer

Climate change is an enormously complex subject, but thankfully copious temperature and precipitation data exist from around the globe that allow for detailed analyses of global and local patterns. In many parts of the globe, increasing trends in weather intensity have been observed, and the most recent data analysis of Caribbean weather reaffirms increased weather intensity throughout the last fifty years (Stephenson et al. 2013). There have been strong rising trends in surface temperatures at several land weather stations throughout the region, but much weaker trends in precipitation than those related to temperature. Still, there were trends of increased average yearly and daily rainfall. The Caribbean region is especially noteworthy because of its high potential for damage related to climate change and high intensity weather events. Continue reading

Temperature Extremes Increasing in South Africa

by Tim Storer

Given the constantly fluctuating nature of weather both seasonally and annually, it is often difficult for scientists to show or describe long-term climate changes in a succinct manner. Even if one accepts the hypothesis that humans can have no major effects on global climate change, it is still useful to study climate patterns for predictive purposes. Certain studies have shown how various climate extremes such as rainfall and temperature are expected to increase in future decades, and others have shown overall warming of the planet. In South Africa, there have been strong trends showing heightened extremes of both the lowest and highest temperatures in all stations studied, though the degree of this amplification varied by location (Kruger and Sekele 2013). This has implications for both the wild ecosystems in South Africa and the human populations. Uncharacteristically high or low temperatures can easily catch humans (and other species) off guard, and it is useful to help predict and prepare for these conditions.

Kruger, A. C. and Sekele, S. S., 2013. Trends in extreme temperature indices in South Africa: 1962–2009. Int. J. Climatol. 33, 661–676.

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