Extreme weather events like wildfires and floods are actually linked – and certain areas of the world are “hotspots” for linked extreme weather events.
A new climate analysis map has highlighted the areas vulnerable to “connected” extreme weather events.
These interconnected weather events, known as “long-distance connections,” are “like a domino effect on a global scale,” said Jingfang Fan of Beijing Normal University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Huge “Rossby waves” that extend hundreds of kilometers in the ocean could help explain how wildfires or floods in one area can affect others hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away.
The structure of long-distance connections around the world, where weather in one place can lead to extreme weather elsewhere (Shang Wang, Jun Meng and Jingfang Fan)
A separate study showed that the US East Coast and Central America could be uninhabitable by 2100 due to rising global temperatures. Above is a map of the regions that are expected to experience 3 to 56 “hot hours” of life-threatening temperatures annually if the global average temperature rises by 4°C
Above is a map of the regions that are expected to experience 3 to 24 “hot hours” of life-threatening temperatures per year if the global average temperature rises by 3°C
“Wet bulb temperatures” and extreme heat can lead to cardiovascular and respiratory problems, but the warming revealed in the new study could cause about 200,000 Americans to die each year. Lower increases (above) would spare the US but still harm developing countries near the equator
Co-author Fan said: “Teleconnections describe how climate events in one part of the world can affect weather thousands of kilometers away.”
“In just five years, we could see temperatures rise to levels that global scientists have warned us about. “It’s as if there is a fever on the planet that is only getting worse.”
The science of these strange “connected” events that can cause weather in one place to affect other areas thousands of miles away is still poorly understood.
Beijing Normal University researchers believe a new method for analyzing climate networks could help understand the interconnected events.
The research was published in the journal Chaos.
Climate networks are like maps where data points are marked as locations and the connections between them show similarities.
Researchers identified sensitive regions using global daily surface air temperature data and used data processing to identify patterns.
Fan said: “Our work has uncovered patterns in climate events that are primarily caused by atmospheric Rossby waves, which are large inertial waves on planets that occur naturally in rotating fluids and cause motion within the atmosphere.”
The team identified areas that are significantly affected by these linked events: regions such as southeast Australia and South Africa appear to be particularly affected.
These connections become stronger over time, from 1948 to 2021, possibly due to a mix of climate change, human activities and other factors.
The scale and intensity of the impact of telecommunications connections has increased significantly in the Southern Hemisphere over the past 37 years.
Researchers plan to use this knowledge to identify which regions may be at higher risk in the future and develop strategies to address these challenges.
Extreme events like wildfires can have impacts thousands of miles away
Climate change is causing extreme weather events to become more frequent and severe
Fan said: “The next step is like weather forecasting – but on steroids.” Using our findings, we want to predict how climate events will evolve and connect.
“We’re diving deep to understand why these events are happening and how different climate tipping points in our climate system may be connected.”
A 2021 UN climate report warned that extreme weather events such as heatwaves and wildfires that would normally occur every 50 years will soon occur every four years.
The researchers warned that “tipping point” events such as rapidly increasing melting of the Antarctic ice sheet “cannot be ruled out.”
Dr. Robert Rohde, chief scientist at Berkeley Earth, said: “Heat extremes that occurred once in 50 years are now occurring every 10 years.”
“With an increase of two degrees Celsius, the same extremes will occur every 3.5 years.”
Droughts that once occurred once a decade now occur every five or six years, the report warned.