The Truth is Powerful

In summer of apocalyptic weather, concerns emerge over climate science blind spot

The rapid succession of precedent-shattering extreme weather events in North America and Europe this summer is prompting some scientists to question whether climate extremes are worsening faster than expected.

Why it matters: Extreme weather events are the deadliest, most expensive and immediate manifestations of climate change. Any miscalculations in how severe these events may become, from wildfires to heat waves and heavy rainfall, could make communities more vulnerable.

Driving the news: The West is roasting this summer, with heat records falling seemingly every day. Forests from Washington State to Montana to California are burning amid the worst drought conditions of the 21st century. Authorities in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are still searching for victims of a devastating flood event that killed at least 180.

The big picture: The discussions and studies under way focus on just how unusual each of the recent extreme events have been, and whether current advanced computer models and statistical techniques can properly anticipate them beforehand. Another set of questions revolves around scientists’ ability to evaluate these events’ rarity as well as causes in hindsight.

For example, the Pacific Northwest heat wave in late June into early July, which sent temperatures soaring […]

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