Extreme weather has been much in evidence around the globe this year, with superstorm Sandy’s devastating impact on New York being the most recent example. There has also been drought across much of the United States’s grain-growing area, and problems with the Indian monsoon.
In the UK, one of the worst droughts on record gave way to the wettest spring recorded, damaging crops and pushing up prices.
Scientists who have been analysing climate models believe we can expect much more of this in future. A survey by the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research has shown that climate change is likely to be more severe than some models have implied, meaning more extreme weather, sooner than we expected.
The new finding come just weeks ahead of a crucial UN conference in Doha, where ministers will discuss the future of international action on greenhouse gas emissions. There has already been increasing evidence of a warming effect this year – the Arctic’s summer ice sank to its lowest extent and volume yet recorded and experts have predicted that the Arctic seas could be ice-free in winter in the next decade.
The International Energy Agency warned earlier this year that on current emissions trends the world would be in for 6C of warming – a level scientists warn would lead to chaos.