the extreme limit of understanding or achievement in a particular area
The impacts of climate change pile up in the extremes. This is the opening line in the IPCC video “In Harm’s Way” for the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Fq8P9RhEpiQ. There is naturally a great desire to understand extreme events and although many scientists have given causality to human activities, it is lately with the pile up that many more are ‘converting’ to the climate change acceptance frame of mind. This video also found it’s way onto the 350.org’s campaign to “Connect the Dots” between extreme weather and climate change. There is a growing activist movement to educate about the science and significance of climate change. The video for Connect the Dots itself gives a similar message: the increase in extreme weather events are strongly a result of human activity and, they are all connected to each other and the climate. http://youtu.be/pMNMvaBC4_U
The debate used be whether climate change could be human induced. In contemporary times the debate is more along the lines of, yes climate change can be human induced, but by how much is it? How badly is the climate being affected and to what extent is this altering our weather patterns? Climate is the canvas upon which weather paints its story. The intensification of weather extremes is shaking people to look at the science; which is there but more work is still needed. Now that more people want to know, the role of the scientist has grown to educator. Another question then, is how do you teach climate change? Well I guess these online videos and images are one way, but that is a discussion for another time and place.
Min et al. (2011) in the journal Nature, showed that anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gasses have contributed to an intensification of heavy rainfall events across most of the Northern Hemisphere. Pall et al. (2011, a few pages after Min et al., 2011) gave insight into the human influence in global warming with impacts on flooding via precipitation and river-flow alteration. Both of these research letters in the same journal show the recent and growing evidence of human influence on rainfall. A scary result is that the models used have shown to underestimate the change in rainfall and thus precipitation related extreme events may become more intense than predictions allow.
Figure 2. “Time series of five-year mean area-averaged PI anomalies over Northern Hemisphere land during 1951–99. a, b, Model simulations with anthropogenic (ANT) forcing; c, d, model simulations with anthropogenic plus natural (ALL) forcing. For each pair of panels, results are shown for RX1D and RX5D precipitation amounts. Black solid lines are observations and dashed lines represent multi-model means. Coloured lines indicate results for individual model averages (see Supplementary Table 1 for the list of climate model simulations and Supplementary Fig. 2 for time series of individual simulations). Each time series is represented as anomalies with respect to its 1951–99 mean.” Min et al., 2011.
We are possibly at our extreme limit of understanding climate change. Any information we do not yet have, any phenomenon we do not yet understand, and any time wasted on denialism leads to greater disaster. There is no time to waste as “climate change isn’t a future problem anymore, it’s happening here and now” (350.org). At the front line of acceptance of the role of human activity on altering our cliamte, lies the devastating extreme weather events shown in the videos above.