Category: Earth Observation & Climate Data

Scientists improve methods to discern links between extreme weather events to climate change

Scientists improve methods to discern links between extreme weather events to climate change

By Gracie Pearsall

Increased frequency of extreme weather events is often cited as one of the principal effects of climate change. While it is difficult to attribute one specific heatwave, drought, or flood to climate change, scientists are improving old techniques and developing new methodologies to better discern when climate change influences extreme events. The rapidly evolving scientific field of weather attribution science and its growing body of scientific evidence are strengthening the link between climate change and extreme events.

Statistical Approach             

Within the field of weather attribution, several schools of thought exist on how scientists should analyse extreme events. Some scientists, such as Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado Boulder, prefer to rely on statistics that show how the frequency of extreme events has changed as the climate has changed. One example of this type of analysis is the IPPC’s 2012 report on extreme weather events that analyses how the current frequency of extreme events compared to all the extreme events since 1950. This report found that there are far more days with extremely heat or heavy rainfall today, than there have been in the past.

Analysing Thermodynamics

Similarly, other scientists favour analysing the basic thermodynamics behind the link between climate change and extreme weather because thermodynamics is simpler than analysing weather dynamics, such as storm physics. From a thermodynamic angle, the relationship between climate change and extreme weather looks a lot like a chain reaction. First, climate change makes the air warmer and wetter (one degree Celsius of warming can allow for air to hold 7% percent more moisture). This change causes excess water in the clouds, and increases the likelihood of heavy rainfall and flooding. Because of the warmer air’s increased capacity to hold moisture, the air sucks up too much moisture from the ground.  The ground then dries out, increasing risk of wildfires, drought, and heatwaves.

Modelling and Rapid Attribution

One organization pioneering weather attribution science is the World Weather Attribution (WWA). This project, backed by Climate Central, aims to “accelerate the scientific community’s ability to analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme-weather events.” The WWA specializes in “rapid attribution” and its’ average turnaround time between an extreme event and a report is five days. The WWA wants to provide scientific evidence for the public debate that occurs immediately after extreme weather events, thus efficiency is of the utmost importance to this project.

The WWA employs an observation and model-based approach to weather attribution. The WWA starts by looking at observation-based data to define what the extreme weather event is, in order to inform how they analyse the event. Then, the researchers must collect more data on the event, often filling in the gaps with weather forecasts and satellite data. Then they use the collected data to model the unusual event and assess whether that event is becoming more common.

Each WWA weather event study uses several models to determine whether climate change played a role. Researches create a model of the real world and a model of a world without climate change, which they compare against each other. Then they run simulations on these models and determine the likelihood that an extreme event will occur, and how climate change influences this probability.

Despite the different approaches among weather attribution scientists, the consensus is that climate change is worsening and increasing the likelihood of certain extreme weather events. Increased confidence in event attribution is crucial for proving climate change does increase extreme whether events that pose immediate and devastating risks, that proof in turn can influence policy making and international climate negotiations.

Cover photo by Lane Pearman (CC BY 2.0): A supercell thunderstorm passes over the Beaumont Windfarm south of Beaumont, KS. This storm went on to produce a short-lived tornado west of Severy.
Data philanthropy will drive climate resilient development

Data philanthropy will drive climate resilient development


At a high-level side event at this year’s UN Climate Talks in Bonn, leaders from private sector data companies joined with United Nations representatives in a call for increased “data philanthropy” to drive efficiency, power innovation and support efforts for more affective climate action.

Hosted through the Sustainable Innovation Forum, the event uncovered new trends in data-driven innovations to inform policy, inspire collective action, and explore concrete ways to replicate and scale data innovations toward achieving the Climate Action goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

“Data, innovation and technology are essential for efficient and effective climate action and sustainable development,” said Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed in her opening remarks. “The urgency of climate action is increasing… To fully understand and respond to today’s complex and interlinked challenges we need to make the best use of the powerful tools that innovation and technology can offer. This includes collecting analyzing and presenting big data, one of our most powerful new resources.”

Worldwide, better use of data and technology could have immense impact on achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement. For instance, weather collected via vast arrays of easily deployed lightning detection networks could be used to improve crops reports, protect myriad industries from uncertain climate outlooks, and provide fast-acting alerts on severe weather that can destroy infrastructure and take lives.

With financing from the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund, Green Climate Fund (GCF), Government of Canada and Adaptation Fund, UNDP supports over 75 countries in modernizing weather, water and climate monitoring and reporting systems worldwide.

One example comes from Malawi, where the Government just launched a UNDP-supported, GCF-Financed climate information project that takes the use of climate data, and extends it to reach vulnerable communities along the “Last Mile” with improved access to farming reports and risk-reduction mechanisms like weather-based index insurance.

“The private sector will be key in bringing this data to the farms, businesses, industries and decision makers that need it most. For instance, mobile operators can share crop reports via cell phones, weather monitoring technologies could be deployed on cell phone towers, Big Data companies can provide platforms to crunch data and package it for use by a diverse group of industries – from energy to agriculture,” said Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head – UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Global Environmental Finance Unit. “By sharing this data openly across various ministries and economic sectors, decision makers will have improved information to make more evidence-based plans to build National Adaptation Plans and sectoral strategies for climate resilience.”

At the Bonn event, Rober Orr, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on Climate Change, highlighted that one of the main challenges in leveraging big-data for good is that data is often privately owned – and contains private information – creating a “firewall” that prevents effective sharing with policy makers and the public.

The idea behind “data philanthropy,” according to Orr, is to connect public and private sectors as equal partners.

“Data has immense power to help solve the climate equation… Can we use big data to offer new climate solutions to countries, cities and citizens? Can we leverage big data to bring into the tent those actors that are not currently part of the drive for climate action?” asked Orr. “In the drive for climate action, ‘data exhaust’ can be used in any number of ways to dramatically increase energy efficiency in buildings, enforce regulations on deforestation, manage waste, change consumer patterns, or incentivize investors to create smart cities.”

The event featured winners of the Data for Climate Action Challenge, an open-data innovation competition focused on leveraging big data and analytics for social good.

The challenge was launched earlier this year by UN Global Pulse and Western Digital, calling on innovators, scientists and climate experts to harnesses the power of big data and data science to catalyze action on climate change. The Challenge connected 97 semi-finalist research teams with donated datasets from 11 companies.

In 2016, UNDP hosted a similar innovations challenge through the Climate Action Hackathon, which awarded scholarships to 23 web developers to use climate and weather data to build mobile applications that could be delivered on the ground in Africa.

Western Digital and the United Nations Global Pulse were key partners in the Data for Climate Action Challenge.

In his presentation, David Tang, Senior Vice President at Western Digital, underlined that public-private partnerships are proven to work, and that data can be used to drive efficiency.

“Data can also result in deeper insights, which can help drive the acceleration of breakthrough discoveries and it can also be used to fuel real-time analytics to keep us healthier and safer,” Tang said.

Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of UN Global Pulse, underscored the opportunity-cost of not having big data harnessed around the world already.

“Not having these kinds of solutions already in use at scale around the world is incurring an opportunity-cost for literally billions of people,” said Kirkpatrick. “You know we think of big data as a new kind of natural resource – or unnatural resource – infinitely renewable, increasingly ubiquitous – but one that has fallen into the hands of what’s been an opaque and largely unregulated extractive industry that’s  just beginning to wake up to the recognition that it has a social opportunity – and perhaps a social responsibility – to make sure that this data reaches the people who need it most.”

Watch the event recording by clicking here.

Cover photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash
US GDP forecast revised down as businesses are left reeling by hurricanes

US GDP forecast revised down as businesses are left reeling by hurricanes

By Will Bugler

The full economic impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma is not yet known, however early estimates are eye-wateringly high. Total economic costs to the region could top US $300 bn (£227 bn) with insurers, small business owners, energy companies and farmers taking the largest hit. The US economic growth forecast was revised down by 0.8%, with Goldman Sachs now predicting the national GDP to grow by 2% in the third quarter. The economic impact for the small island states of the Caribbean is far more devastating, with hurricane Irma destroying 95% of homes on the islands of Barbuda and Sint Maarten.


The insurance industry will bear the brunt of many of the costs in the US, while in the Caribbean where there is less market penetration, governments and citizens will be left footing the bill. The insurance industry is still assessing the cost of Hurricane Harvey, which caused severe flooding in parts of Texas, as over 130 cm (50 inches) of rain fell in just a few days. Initial estimates suggest the insured costs could be as much as US$100 bn.

With Irma causing further devastation in the region, costs could yet rise further. Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, Barrie Cornes, an analyst at the stockbroker Panmure Gordon, said that the overall economic cost could reach US$ 300 billion, US$ 100-150 billion of which would be insured losses.

The increase in severity of storms in the region has already reshaped the insurance market in Florida. Previous storms in the mid 2000s, including Hurricane Katrina, have meant that many of the larger national companies have left the area. Florida’s insurance market is now dominated by smaller firms who are less able to cope with large-scale pay-outs of this sort.


Over a dozen oil refineries were at least partially out of action a full two weeks after hurricane Harvey hit Texas. Estimates suggest that about 2.4 million barrels of refining capacity was offline – 13% of the US’s total refining capacity.

There was an immediate impact on fuel prices in the Caribbean and the US, where prices rose by 30 cents per gallon, reaching US$ 2.67 per gallon in early September. The impacts were felt in other countries too, with fuel prices in the UK rising by 2 pence per litre.


Irma and Harvey’s greatest impact was to property. Homes and businesses across the region were destroyed or damaged, with near total-destruction reported on several Caribbean islands including Barbuda and Sint Maarten. In the US analysts estimated that US$ 2 trillion worth of property was in Irma’s path.


The full extent of the damage to crops on Caribbean Islands is not yet known, but many island economies are highly depended on agriculture, and often on just one or two crops. In the US estimates suggest that 40% of Florida’s valuable citrus crops have been wiped out. Florida is the world’s second largest producer of orange juice. The damage to agriculture in the region has both short-term impacts, pushing food prices up, and leaving farmers with considerable losses, and causes long-term disruption as many crops take several years to establish.

Small Businesses

Almost half of Florida’s homes and businesses remained without electricity after hurricane Irma had rolled over the state, and power restoration remains one of the most important issues to help business recovery rates. In the Caribbean islands such as Puerto Rico is facing long-term power outages, as Irma left 1 million people without electricity – almost a third of the population. Small businesses are also struggling to re-open as many of their employees have suffered considerable damage to their homes and cars.

Cover photo by NASA Earth Observatory, Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey: Hurricane Irma turns Caribbean islands brown.
Three hurricanes in the Atlantic

Three hurricanes in the Atlantic

By Kathryn Hansen

There was no shortage of storms brewing across the Atlantic basin in September 2017. On September 6, hurricanes Katia, Irma, and Jose lined up across the basin. The trio is visible in this image, captured that day by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. The image is a mosaic, assembled from images acquired throughout the day during several orbits of the satellite.

On September 6, Katia had strengthened over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and was upgraded from tropical storm to hurricane status. The eye of Irma, a raging category 5 storm, passed north of Puerto Rico but still delivered strong winds and rain the Caribbean island. Meanwhile, Jose spun in the central Atlantic Ocean, and was also upgraded that day from a tropical storm to hurricane.

The bright strips are reflected sunlight, or “glint,” which show up over ocean areas in the middle of each orbit.

This article was originally published by NASA Earth Observatory
Cover image by NASA Earth Observatory image, Joshua Stevens, using VIIRS data from LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response: Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose as seen on 6 September. See the image in full resolution by clicking here.
Analyising existing data infrastructures for climate services

Analyising existing data infrastructures for climate services

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

The Horizon 2020 project EU-MACS (EUropean MArket for Climate Services) is in full swing and our research is showing first results. Acclimatise and EU-MACS partner Twente University finalised a report analysing the existing climate data infrastructure, and how it may inhibit or stimulate the European climate services market.

The research involved mapping and cataloguing relationships of organisations involved in the climate data infrastructure value chain, as well as interviewing a few experts to gain further insights and corroborate the literture research. Furthermore, a usability survey was designed and carried out to evaluate a range of climate data websites and portals. Finally, the research analysed data infrastructure governance putting emphasis on the processes of data infrastructure governance in Europe.

Analysing relationships in the climate services value chain.

The findings show that the quality and success of climate services highly depend on whether they will fit user needs. Thus, embedding users as integral and equal partners in the co-construction of climate services is of utmost importance. Bridging the gap between user needs and what providers think users need should be seen as an essential part of climate services development.

The report also developed a series of six hypotheses to be tested during future phases of the EU-MACS project:

  1. A common data format and a common convention for data records and exchange will boost services and the popularisation of climate data use.
  2. Role-specific data finding aides (e.g. effective search functions and clear navigation), offered with real human interactive support, are crucial for successfully establishing and maintaining data provider/ user relationships.
  3. Climate services philosophies sometimes seem to pin all hopes on either a good portal or a good set of aides; the solution, however, seems to be more of a combination of both, plus a good overview of available data sources, functional methods and active human (personal/personnel) engagement facilitating how users interact with both portals and aides.
  4. The ultimate task of a good data infrastructure governance is to emancipate it into a ‘knowledge infrastructure’ with greater usability and real-world application by other sectors (e.g. use of data by the mining sector).
  5. Boundary objects can provide the chance to let disparate knowledges and interest, positions and conventions converge. There are numerous items that may enhance cooperation across the boundary of climate sciences into other domains, for example use cases that show the value of climate services (i.e. the business value) to users operating in other, non-climate services, sectors (e.g. aviation or road engineering).
  6. It makes sense that free and open climate data is made accessible through a portal (e.g. Copernicus C3S) when flanked by support and tutorials that enhances inclusivity of a broader user base. Portals need to increase user experience to maximise impact. Freely available data, when it is not combined with appropriate levels of support, can be problematic.

Download the full report “Analysing existing data infrastructures for climate services” by clicking here.

Cover photo by Michal Osmenda (CC BY 2.0): Weather station on Mount Vesuvius.
Radiant Earth: A new project to harness geospatial data

Radiant Earth: A new project to harness geospatial data

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

Bill and Melinda Gates are cooperating with Pierre Omidyar (founder of eBay) to fund the ‘Radiant Earth’ project – a powerful digital platform to harness remote sensing data from earth observation (EO) satellites, aerial and drone imagery. The data, most of which will stem from EO satellites, will be freely available and easily accessible for humanitarian and environmental causes.

Anne Hale Miglarese, CEO of Radiant, said the platform “will help build the ‘who, what, where when or why’ for the planning and management of issues such as land tenure, global health, sustainable development, food security and disaster response.” Radiant, which will require a multi-million-dollar investment, aims at finding ways to analyse and combine the data, and offer it free of charge and in formats that will be easily understood by novice users.

This project follows such initiatives as the European earth observation programme Copernicus, which provides free and open EO data from its own satellites and from contributing missions. Programmes like Radiant and Copernicus are powerful tools for all types of climate services. Data procurement can be complicated and expensive, so having free, open data can stimulate the climate services market and will be invaluable for non-profit organisations. It also offers opportunities to engage people from a young age and let them experiment with and learn about data.

The specific focus of Radiant will be to “positively impact the developing world’s greatest social, economic and environmental challenges.” However, its coverage will be global and could eventually benefit a range of people and organisations.


Visit the Radiant website by clicking here.

Cover photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Public Domain)
UNDP releases vision report for weather and climate services in Africa

UNDP releases vision report for weather and climate services in Africa

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has called on African leaders to investment in weather and climate services in order to increase climate resilience, save lives, and protect the environment.

In a newly released report, A New Vision for Weather and Climate Services in Africa, the UNDP says that climate services will play an important role in reducing poverty in the region. The emphasises that many challenges that Sub-Saharan Africa faces will be made more difficult by climate change, citing rapid population growth, poor access to basic services and low rates of agricultural productivity as examples.

The report’s authors found that climate and weather services can play a part in building resilience. For example, they can provide vulnerable farming communities with important information that can help farmers increase their productivity and manage their risks better. Reliable climate information can also be useful to access index-based insurance, which for many can be an important risk management tool.

The study also provides examples of end-to-end systems that can produce and deliver early warnings and climate information. It also identifies many of the main drivers for maintaining climate information and early warning systems: specifically showing how public-private partnerships and next generation monitoring technologies can help to increase resilience in the region.

Engagement with the private sector was found to be important in order to strengthen climate services. The report calls for more effective public-private partnerships, and that sustained financial and political support is provided to help maintain them. However, the report also cautions that these partnerships must be established carefully. To do this they must have: transparent and effective procurement processes, clear allocation of risks, and continual monitoring and evaluation.

It is hoped that sustained investment in climate services can help bring valuable public-information alerts to vulnerable communities across Africa and help build new revenue streams for national hydro-meteorological services.

Acclimatise CTO and Co-founder, Dr Richenda Connell, was one of the peer reviewers of the report.

Download the report by clicking here.

Cover photo by Warrenski/Flickr (CC by 2.0)
2016 breaks yet another temperature record

2016 breaks yet another temperature record

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

For the third year in a row, global temperatures have risen above historical figures making 2016 the hottest year on record. 16 of the 17 hottest years ever recorded, have happened since the new millennium began.

Independent analyses by NASA and NOAA confirmed these numbers yesterday, as did the UK Met Office, which reported 2016 as one of the hottest years on record alongside 2015.

Scientists agree that even though the warming trend over the past few years has been influenced by a very strong El Niño event, man-made climate change is still the main culprit. Peter Stott, Acting Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre, explains that “a particularly strong El Niño event contributed about 0.2° C to the annual average for 2016, which was about 1.1° C above the long term average from 1850 to 1900. However, the main contributor to warming over the last 150 years is human influence on climate from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen around 1.1° C since the late 1800s, according to NASA and the Met Office. However, most of that warming occurred in the past three decades.

Uncertainties always remain, but Stott emphasises that they “are much smaller than the overall warming since pre-industrial times.”

Climate change adaptation efforts are without a doubt now more important than ever and these results should grab the attention of decision-makers everywhere.

Watch the video below to learn more about the findings.

Cover photo by NASA/Earth Observatory, Joshua Stevens (Public Domain).
Building a value proposition for climate and weather services

Building a value proposition for climate and weather services

By Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Alan Miller, and Robert K. Rutaagi

Climate change, including extreme weather events compounded by ineffective risk management systems, threaten to derail efforts to build resilient nations in Africa.

Without improved weather and climate information and effective early warning systems, droughts will put livelihoods at risk, floods will wipe out infrastructure, lightning will take more lives. In Uganda for instance, many lives have been lost and properties destroyed by floods and landslides in Bududa in Eastern Uganda and Kasese in Western Uganda. Recently, one soldier was killed by lightning at The Statehouse in Entebbe, and 10 people were killed in Kabale District. These are but few examples of the many disasters caused by weather and climate phenomena for which the countries in Africa are ill-prepared.

The absence of accurate data will mean that high-priced investments in energy and economic development will be less effective, more risky, and more prone to failure. Opportunities for widening the service offering of public-sector-based Meteorological Services will be foregone, posing the real risk of rendering such fragile institutions to be regarded as even more redundant across a number of countries.

Decision makers, lacking the essential information, enabling policies, latest technology, funding and bandwidth required to anticipate, plan, respond and react to the effects of climate change, will be left standing in the mud.

Across much of sub-Saharan Africa, efforts in the past have failed to create sustainable public-sector-based climate and weather services. These investments have failed to promote lasting results, potential revenue streams have been left largely untapped, and hard-to-maintain-and-service technologies have been abandoned. Decision-makers have continued the all-too-familiar pattern of looking to the sky to inform their risk-management processes.

On a global level, a lack of climate information in Africa that specifically targets the needs of real-time decision-making – be it in agriculture, water management, urban planning, road and housing construction, defense and security facilities, plans for the tourism sector and the like – has created a continental-sized blind spot. World leaders, private-sector investors, climate negotiators, national decision makers and farmers simply do not know what short- and medium-term weather or long-term changes in climate are coming their way, and have too little information to accurately make decisions.

There is, however, a silver lining. While challenges remain, a number of African countries are attempting to learn from past mistakes and are proactively taking incremental steps to build more efficient and effective systems. The development and sustainability of these systems requires new ways of thinking. This starts with building and supporting the policies, laws, programmes, strategies, procedures, technologies, finance and capacities required to build a true value proposition for weather and climate services.

Rethinking the problem: New ideas to address old problems.

Policy. The value proposition starts with creating an enabling environment to support the sustainable adoption of alternative technologies and business models that can more effectively be used to generate and share accurate climate and weather information.

Finance. Entry barriers, including allowing for critical incubation periods necessary for the testing and up-take of new technologies, requires the provision of basic seed financing. International public finance has a key role to play to incentivize both public- and private-sector institutions to invest in improving climate information data generation and disseminations to end users. Counterpart funding by beneficiary governments is a fundamental sine qua non for success.

Partnerships. The challenge of finance is complex as business opportunities expand for private-sector alternatives that lay beyond the scope of traditional public-sector provision of climate information. It calls for the efficient and effective engagement of public and private weather service providers to collaborate on generating, calibrating, packaging and distributing information so that decisions with clear value propositions can be made. Revenue sharing agreements between the public and private sector need to be formulated, and need to be done within a fit-for-purpose context. Revenue sharing and market dynamics for weather and climate services will play a vital role. For many years, in Uganda, public-private partnerships were non-existent. The Department of Meteorology – later transformed and modernized to become the current Uganda National Meteorological Authority [UNMA] – provided meteorological services to the Civil Aviation Authority without payment. Very few private-sector companies paid for any consumed meteorological services. Effective in mid-2016, the public-private partnership concept and strategy is firmly taking root in Uganda, with technical and financial support from the United Nations Development Programme and Global Environment Facility for a Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warnings Systems Project, as well as a recently approved project funded by the Green Climate Fund to support wetlands restoration and climate information in Uganda. Based on meteorological services commercialization studies done in Uganda and 10 other African countries, Memos of Understanding have been signed between UNMA, the public Civil Aviation Authority and the private enterprise Fit Uganda. The Civil Aviation Authority made its first payment to UNMA in August 2016. These payments will be repeated on a quarterly basis, according to the signed Memo of Understanding. Payment from Fit Uganda is in advanced stages, while more Memos of Understanding have been signed or are being negotiated. While some challenges persist, all these new positive steps indicate that engaging the public and private sector to finance climate change adaptation in Uganda has started in earnest and is expected to improve in the coming months.

Technology. New technologies are now available that make it easier to deploy cost-effective, accurate and easily maintained weather and climate monitoring systems. Learn more about advances in technologies.

Incremental Approaches. We are now entering the phase where we start to package products to reach end users, further engage with civil society, create effective cost-recovery mechanisms, and monitor, evaluate and re-adjust these approaches. Discover recent steps Uganda is taking toward the finish line.

The Last Mile. Weather information, climate data and early warning systems should remain largely a public good in Africa. After all, weather data saves lives and exclusivity of the raw data may not be possible. However, by looking at the gaps that have hindered the effectiveness of past efforts to modernize weather and climate services across the continent, there is an opportunity to un-tap revenue generating products, increase new revenue streams, deliver more actionable services by individuals, lower climate-related risks and prepare ourselves for an uncertain climate future. Discover new approaches to reaching the last mile with weather and climate services.

If done right, these services will not only inform risk-management practices – and empower nations that are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change to take proactive, rather than reactive approaches to climate change – but they will also help reach the “Last Mile.”

Crossing the Last Mile will provide farmers and vulnerable communities with the information they need to climate-proof their futures, make more money on their farms so that they can send their children to school, and break the cycle of resource-poverty, capacity-poverty and information-poverty that keeps much of Africa trapped and struggling to break through.

Useful Resources

The authors

Dr. Pradeep Kurukulasuriya is Head of UNDP’s Climate Change Adaptation Portfolio.

Alan Miller is an independent consultant on climate change policy and an Acclimatise associate.

Dr. Robert K. Rutaagi is Chairperson, Board of the Uganda National Meteorological Authority; Senior Associate Consultant & Governance Advisor for Eastern, Central & Southern Africa [ECASA] Group of Consultants. According to some sources, Uganda has as much as 70 lightning strikes per kilometer per year. In fact, the upcountry residence of Dr. Rutaagi was recently struck by lightning twice, destroying the power meter box and a nearby electric pole.

Cover photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC by 2.0). This visualization depicts specific atmospheric humidity on June 17, 1993, during the Great Flood that hit the Midwestern United States.
Climate change and 2015’s year of wild weather

Climate change and 2015’s year of wild weather

By Andrew KingUniversity of Melbourne

The annual review of extreme weather and climate events published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society today highlights how climate change is influencing the events that affect us the most. This table summarises each event and whether climate change played a role.

Across the globe, extreme heat events are linked with climate change, although El Niño provided a boost in 2015 leading to more records being broken. The human influence on rainfall and drought is less strong but we can see it in many events that were studied.

Our influence on the climate extends beyond temperature and rainfall. In the UK, the chance of very sunny winters (which sounds like an oxymoron!) has increased due to climate change. The record low sea ice extents, which have continued into 2016, are strongly associated with human influences.

While the majority of studies have been done on the developed world, more analyses of developing countries are included this year than in the past. Through collaborations between local experts and teams in the United States and Europe, a greater emphasis on extreme events in the developing world was possible.

This is important because the impacts of extreme events are often more severe in these areas than in wealthier regions.

The effects of climate change on extremes spread far and wide as human activities have radically altered our climate. We can expect to see more extreme events with a clear fingerprint of human-caused climate change in the coming years and decades.

Image: Table of extreme weather events and how climate change influenced them. Find the interactive version at

Andrew King, Climate Extremes Research Fellow, University of Melbourne. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Cover photo by Pixabay (Public Domain)