Connecting the dots: Human activity, rising temperatures and extreme weather
The latest assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change3 concluded that it is an “established fact” that human-caused emissions are causing temperature increases, in turn leading to more extreme weather.
The burning of fossil fuels is largely linked to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs), contributing to the fact that global temperatures are currently 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels. Each of the last three decades have been warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. Most of this warming has occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.
Higher temperatures and more extreme weather: Rising air and ocean temperature are closely connected with rising sea levels, reduced snow and ice cover, and changes in circulation between the atmosphere and ocean. These, in turn, influence regional weather patterns, contributing to droughts, floods and tropical storms. Some of these processes also have the potential to release further GHGs into the atmosphere - a feedback loop that can perpetuate warming.