The rise in extreme weather predicted by climate models as global temperatures continue to rise is confirmed by satellite data.
The last 8 years have been the hottest on record, resulting in more intense drought and heavy rainfall events than in the previous 10 years, according to new research published March 13 in Nature Water.
Just last week, Cyclone Freddy set the record for the longest lasting cyclone ever recorded, crossing the Indian Ocean from February 6 to March 13, and slamming into Mozambique twice in two weeks. Imagine if Hurricane Sandy had lingered over the East Coast for a month, repeatedly slamming into the East Coast.
Global heating also is increasing the intensity of the atmospheric rivers that repeatedly have slammed into California the past few months. A warming atmosphere holds more moisture, which eventually falls back to Earth as rain and snow. Ironically, this also can contribute to more extreme droughts, where evaporation increases and transports the moisture elsewhere. Hence, the “dry gets drier, wet gets wetter” hypothesis long predicted by climate models.
The new research also accounted for the natural variability of El Niño and La Niña, which also may have exacerbated extreme events, but the researchers found “total intensity of extreme events was strongly correlated” with rising global temperatures.
The researchers analyzed data from two NASA satellites that measure water storage on land, focusing on 1,056 extreme weather events from 2002 to 2021. While extreme events have increased since 2002, the intensity has been more frequent and more severe since 2015.
Considering 2022 was the 6th warmest year on record, and January 2023 was the seventh-warmest January in 174 years, more extreme weather likely is in the forecast.