If it feels as if the world has been besieged with more extreme weather events in the past few decades, climatologists say your instincts are correct.
The world’s climate experts agree: that the earth’s climate is in crisis has become obvious enough that we can no longer ignore the consequences. The combination of carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases is locking us into an extreme climate experiment that does not look to end well.
While there are plenty of individuals (and one American political party) who argue that weather has always been variable, what appears to be occurring in the 21st-century is beyond what the earth has ever experienced as long as it has had modern humans. The 20th-century climate “sweet spot” in which we all were born and grew up — a time of adequate moisture, mild temperatures, predictable seasons and weather patterns, traditional animal migrations — is now erratic.
Though there is no shortage of climate-change deniers, the profound impacts of what this will mean to human life over the course of the 21st century have already begun.
Consider this evidence:
- Our weather patterns are becoming unstable; the jet stream is slowing and dipping — a wobble that is bringing abrupt shifts in temperatures and causing weather events to hang for days over regions, rather than running from Pacific to Atlantic seaboards.
- Our weather events are becoming more extreme; stronger hurricanes, deeper snow events, more violent, rain events; dropping more uneven precipitation — a year’s worth of rain all at once — instead of spreading over a growing season.
- Our climate zones and growing seasons are shifting; causing spring to come earlier,
- Our average temperatures are rising.
- Our droughts are coming more often, for longer periods of time.
- Our wildfire seasons are lengthening, their range is growing.
- As the poles warm and glaciers melt, our coastlines are gradually being inundated.
- Migration patterns are shifting, birds and butterflies are migrating at different times when migration food sources aren’t yet available, moving them beyond their normal ranges.
- Seasons are shifting — plants are blooming sooner (in Colorado lilacs are blooming a full month sooner than they did in the 1950s) growing seasons are moving earlier and the first frost is moving later.
- The world’s biodiversity is threatened by climate change that includes more extreme weather events, humanity encroachment on wild places, and a warming planet; threaten approximately half of all species on earth.
As the poles warm at unprecedented speed, the normal low-pressure areas that keep the extreme winter cold at the poles are slipping; causing wild gyrations, allowing unpredictable jet stream dips into the lower 48 states in odd ways. The recent arctic plunge during February lasted for days, didn’t just shock human residents, but killed thousands of green sea turtles off the coast of Padre Island, that couldn’t adjust to the extreme temperatures.
This series of interactive Propublica maps shows the multiple impacts occurring now across the nation on everything from temperatures to drought, wildfire seasons, migration patterns, and extreme weather.
Consider: this past winter at the end of January, only five percent of the nation’s Great Lakes – the world’s’ largest bodies of freshwater in the world — were frozen. Not only was this unprecedented, but it allows toxic algae blooms to grow and destroy the lakes’ water quality and marine life, but it allowed freshwater evaporation at unprecedented levels.
Only two weeks later, that artic dip plunged into Texas, causing unprecedented below-zero temperatures and disaster for what some say was a criminally-unprepared Texas energy grid. At the same time, the deep freeze caught ships on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan in an ice disaster, as they had been sailing open water to the ports of Duluth and Superior.
A tiny town on the Outer Banks of North Carolina is planning to raise a main road that is already being inundated by the levels of the Atlantic Ocean.
Only last year AVV reported on the hottest month on record and the impacts of slowing and “more-wobbly” jet stream on extreme weather events.
2019 was the second warmest year on record. The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998, and nine of the 10 have occurred since 2005. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA,) the 2020 models projected that global surface temperature will be more than 0.5°C (0.9°F) warmer than the 1986-2005 average, regardless of which carbon dioxide emissions pathway the world follows.