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Studying warming, disaster connection

Alliance formed to investigate if exceptional weather events can be attributable to global warming

LONDON (UPI) | July 4, 2011

"We've certainly moved beyond the point of saying that we can't say anything about attributing extreme weather events to climate change"

—Peter Stott, U.K. Met Office

Researchers have formed an alliance to investigate exceptional weather events to see if they can be attributable to global warming, a British scientist says.

In the past scientists have been reluctant to link any single extreme weather event to climate change, saying natural variability of the weather makes it virtually impossible to establish any definitive association, The Independent reported Friday.

However, a growing number of climate scientists are now prepared to acknowledge a link.

"We've certainly moved beyond the point of saying that we can't say anything about attributing extreme weather events to climate change," said Peter Stott, a leading climate scientist at with the U.K. Met Office.

"There is strong evidence if you look across the world that we are seeing an increase in heatwaves and floods and droughts and extreme rainfall and extreme temperatures," Stott said.

The Met Office and the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research have joined forces with other climate organizations to carry out detailed investigations of extreme weather events, such as the widespread flooding in Pakistan last year, to determine if they can identify a climate change "signal" as a likely cause.

NCAR scientists Kevin Trenberth agrees the time has come to consider a link between extreme weather and the global climate in which it develops.

"The environment in which all storms form has changed owing to human activities, in particular it is warmer and more moist than it was 30 or 40 years ago," Trenberth said.

Researchers have formed a coalition, the Attribution of Climate-Related Events, to prepare a report to be published at a meeting of the World Climate Research Program in Denver later this year.

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