19 Aug '12, 3am

Extreme metrics

Extreme metrics

What this shows first of all is that extreme heat waves, like the ones mentioned, are not just “black swans ” – i.e. extremely rare events that happened by “bad luck”. They might look like rare unexpected events when you just focus on one location, but looking at the whole globe, as Hansen et al. did, reveals an altogether different truth: such events show a large systematic increase over recent decades and are by no means rare any more. At any given time, they now cover about 10% of the planet. What follows is that the likelihood of 3 sigma+ temperature events (defined using the 1951-1980 baseline mean and sigma) has increased by such a striking amount that attribution to the general warming trend is practically assured. We have neither long enough nor good enough observational data to have a perfect knowledge of the extremes of heat waves given a steady climate, and so n...

Full article: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/08/ext...

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