Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Global Extremities of Summer 2010

What a summer it has been! From heat waves to floods and from drought to wildfires and even severe weather outbreaks, extreme weather has been the rule. Just looking back at recent blog posts here on The Northeast Quadrant, it seems that at least once a week a story gets posted about rare and record-breaking weather conditions!

Most recently, monsoon flooding has been wreaking havoc in Pakistan and an extreme heat wave has been fueling wildfires and creating health hazards in Russia, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research agrees that although this time of year always brings treacherous weather to the northern hemisphere, conditions have been quite exceptional – attributing the intense monsoons to La NiƱa, which typically brings wetter conditions to Asia. Other contributing factors noted are the strong ridge above Pakistan that is blocking the moisture from circulating out of the region as well as the infamous climate change and the long-term warming of the oceans and the atmosphere. In this case, because the Indian Ocean is so warm it's further fueling the heavy rain.

The extreme events seen this summer are likely connected to each other by the currents in the atmosphere. Those currents are responsible for the unusual weather conditions we've been experiencing here in the United States, as well as the extreme heat and drought that has plagued Russia for most of the summer. However, normal seasonal changes should bring some relief to both regions soon.

Some climate-change skeptics (myself included) argue there is not enough information about weather patterns over long periods of history to draw conclusions about extreme weather events and climate change. I personally think it's all natural and cyclical.

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