Saturday, March 22, 2014

Linking storms to climate change a ‘distraction’, say UK experts

A press release from the University of Manchester: Writing in the journal Weather, Climate and Society, the University of Manchester researchers argue that cutting greenhouse gas emissions, while crucial to reducing humanity’s longer-term impact on the planet, will not eliminate violent storms, tornadoes or flooding and the damage they cause.

The authors suggest that developing greater resilience to extreme weather events must be given greater priority if the socioeconomic impact of storms, like those that have ravaged Britain this winter, is to be reduced. Professor David Schultz, one of the authors of the guest editorial, said: “One of the long-term effects of climate change is often predicted to be an increase in the intensity and frequency of many high-impact weather events, so reducing greenhouse gas emissions is often seen to be the response to the problem.

“Reducing humanity’s impact on our planet should be pursued as a matter of urgency, but more emphasis must also be placed on being resilient to individual weather events, as this year’s storms in Britain have so devastatingly shown.”

...Schultz, a professor of synoptic meteorology, and co-author Dr Vladimir Janković, a science historian specialising in weather and climate, say the short-term, large variability from year to year in high-impact weather makes it difficult, if not impossible, to draw conclusions about the correlation to longer-term climate change.

They argue that while large public investments in dams and flood defences, for example, must account for the possibilities of how weather might change in the future, this should not prevent short-term thinking to address more immediate vulnerability to inevitable high-impact weather events.

“Avoiding construction in floodplains, implementing strong building codes, and increasing preparedness can make society more resilient to extreme weather events,” said Dr Janković. “But compounding the problem is that finding money for recovery is easier than spending on prevention, even if the costs of recovery are much higher.”...

This aerial images was taken approximately two miles west of Rockfish (town) along Rt. 617. The Rockfish River flooded the surrounding low lands. In another Nelson County location, up to 27" of rain in four eight hours from Hurriacne Camille was recorded. No. 69-2133, Virginia Governor's Negative Collection, Library of Virginia. Flickr Commons

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