Scientists have linked extreme weather fluctuations, from heat waves to torrential rains, to climate change, and these extremes are not limited to Europe.
Last month, ground temperatures in the Arctic Circle reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Much of the western United States is suffering from severe drought, which has provided tinder ready for the wildfires that erupted particularly early this year.
And for the first time in recorded history, deforestation and fires in the Amazon, coupled with warmer temperatures, are causing parts of the rainforest to spit out more carbon dioxide than it absorbs. Scientists fear this reversal may be a tipping point, where one of the best ways to store massive amounts of Earth’s carbon is now becoming a carbon emitter.
And now Gavin Schmidt is joining me. He is a climatologist and senior climate advisor to NASA.
Gavin Schmidt, nice to see you again on “NewsHour”.
We see this devastation and flooding in Europe and also here in the United States. The West is cooking with this drought and forest fires. These are the things that climate models have always predicted would happen, right, more and more of these extreme fluctuations.
Director Gavin Schmidt, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies: So climate models predicted that the globe as a whole would get warmer and at the same time we would see more heat waves and we would see more intense precipitation and exacerbation of signals of drought, especially in places like the southwest or the Mediterranean region, where you see a lot more demand for evaporation pulling water out of the soil, making droughts caused by a lack of rainfall more severe for the people on the ground.