Here’s a word of caution about attributing any particular weather event to climate change.
We’ve all seen stories in the popular press about weather events over the past few years, like the recent cold snaps, and how they may be some indication of climate change. In fact, it’s easy to find news and opinion articles using these weather events to both prove and disprove climate change! Caution in drawing these conclusions is warranted.
- Remember the difference between weather and climate: climate is a long-term trend, and weather is a daily or short-term event.
- Teasing out what kind of role climate change may play in any daily weather event is extremely technical and fraught with uncertainty! Not a good area for speculation!
Here’s what www.skepticalscience.com has to say about it:
It’s easy to confuse current weather events with long-term climate trends, and hard to understand the difference between weather and climate. It’s a bit like being at the beach, trying to figure out if the tide is rising or falling just by watching individual waves roll in and out. The slow change of the tide is masked by the constant churning of the waves.
In a similar way, the normal ups and downs of weather make it hard to see slow changes in climate. To find climate trends you need to look at how weather is changing over a longer time span. Looking at high and low temperature data from recent decades shows that new record highs occur nearly twice as often as new record lows.
New records for cold weather will continue to be set, but global warming’s gradual influence will make them increasingly rare.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact the Florida Sea Grant faculty and staff in the Climate Change program area.