And in the western United States, just weeks after a historic heatwave, some 20,000 firefighters and personnel have been deployed to extinguish 80 large fires that have consumed more than 1 million acres (4,047 square kilometers).
Climate scientists have for decades warned that the climate crisis would lead to more extreme weather. They said it would be deadly and it would be more frequent. But many are expressing surprise that heat and rain records are being broken by such large margins.
Since the 1970s, scientists have predicted the extent to which the world would warm fairly accurately. What’s harder for their models to predict — even as computers get more and more powerful — is how intense the impact will be.
Michael E. Mann, the director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, told CNN the past few weeks have showed the limitation of climate change models.
“There is an important factor with many of these events, including the recent ‘heat dome’ event out west, that the climate models don’t capture,” Mann said. “The models are underestimating the magnitude of the impact of climate change on extreme weather events.”
In climate models, Mann explained, day-to-day weather is just noise. It looks a lot like chaos. It’s only the most extreme events that stand out as a clear signal.
“The signal is emerging from the noise more quickly” than models predicted, Mann said. “The [real world] signal is now large enough that we can ‘see’ it in the daily weather,” even though the models didn’t see it coming.