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Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Extremes for the United States

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program has released another of its synthesis and assessment products, Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate. The report summarises the science regarding observed changes in climate extremes in the U.S. and its territories and captures the state of knowledge regarding how climate change might influence these events in the future.

Some highlights from the summary:

"Many extremes and their associated impacts are now changing. For example,
in recent decades most of North America has been experiencing more unusually
hot days and nights, fewer unusually cold days and nights, and fewer frost days. Heavy downpours have become more frequent and intense. Droughts are becoming more severe in some regions, though there are no clear trends for North America as a whole. The power and frequency of Atlantic hurricanes have increased substantially in recent decades, though North American mainland land-falling hurricanes do not appear to have increased over the past century. Outside the tropics, storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are becoming even stronger.

In the future, with continued global warming, heat waves and heavy downpours are very likely to further increase in frequency and intensity. Substantial areas of North America are likely to have more frequent droughts of greater severity. Hurricane wind speeds, rainfall intensity, and storm surge levels are likely to increase. The strongest cold season storms are likely to become more frequent, with stronger winds and more extreme wave heights."

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