The past year brought multiple extreme events to the US, including devastating wildfires to California and deadly hurricanes on the east coast. These are the types of extreme weather events that a 2018 study by Noah Diffenbaugh, the Kara J Foundation Professor of Earth System Science at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) and his colleagues suggest could get more frequent if countries don’t work together to reach the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement.
Diffenbaugh and his colleagues analyzed the probability of extreme weather events if countries achieve the Paris Agreement goals – limiting global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – or if they simply achieve their individual commitments, which fall short of those goals.
“The really big increases in record-setting event probability are reduced if the world achieves the aspirational targets rather than the actual commitments,” Diffenbaugh said in a story about the work.
What’s more, under warmer global temperatures, extremely hot, dry weather is more likely to strike multiple regions at once, Diffenbaugh reported in a later study.
In addition to weather-related threats, rising seas pose an increasing risk as global temperatures heat up, according to a white paper this year by Alice Hill, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Katharine Mach, a senior research scientist at Stanford Earth. They report that the rising seas are a risk both to coastal communities and to low-lying U.S. military installations around the world, posing a national security threat.
Read more at Stanford News