UN climate change report could reflect local weather patterns

Published: Oct. 10, 2018 at 10:20 PM CDT
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A climate change report issued by leading scientists could be linked to the extreme weather seen throughout the local area this summer.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

on the impacts of global warming on Monday. The report specifically looks at a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"Our global climate has warmed by about a degree Celsius already, so this report looks at what our climate would look like if we were to stop that warming at one and a half degrees Celsius, so about three degrees Fahrenheit global warming," said Daniel Vimont, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Wisconsin, and the director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research.

While three degrees Fahrenheit may seem like a minute change, climatically, it can make a large difference, said Vimont.

"Some of the differences we might see between one and a half degrees of global warming and two degrees of global warming is at one and a half degrees of global warming, we expect loss of somewhere between zero and 90 percent of coral reefs globally," Vimont said. "With two degrees of global warming, that's more like 90 to 99 percent."

"With one and a half degrees of global warming, we might expect the arctic to be ice free once every hundred years or so, with substantial loss of ice in the other years as well, but perhaps not ice free," he said. "With two degrees of global warming, the arctic will be ice free once every ten years."

Vimont said that the findings in the report mirror not only what he has been researching throughout his career, but what he is seeing locally.

"We've already seen and experienced a lot of climate change here in Wisconsin," Vimont said. "Our temperatures in Wisconsin have warmed by about a degree to three degrees Fahrenheit depending on the season and the location. We've seen increases in precipitation over the last 50 years. And a lot of these changes that we've seen are consistent with what this report is saying is likely, and what the global models are saying is likely to occur."

Vimont said that this could lead to more extreme weather in the local area going forward.

"Some expected changes that are likely to continue in the future are an increased prevalence of very warm days," he said. "Typically in Madison, we have about 10 days per summer where the temperature gets about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. We expect by 2050 that there'll be more like 30 days per summer when the temperature gets above 90."

More extreme weather situations could also lead to seeing a repeat in the rainfall seen this summer.

"We expect to see more extreme rainfall events, and potentially more intense rainfall events, we've seen that this year."

NBC15's Meteorologist Brian Doogs said that a pattern is visible when looking at rain trends in the local area.

"2018 is set to be one of the wettest years on record in the Madison area," Doogs said. "Five of the top 10 wettest years locally, have all occurred since 2000."

Doogs also said that extreme weather may become more common going forward.

"100 year weather events are happening every 10 years," Doogs said. "Extreme weather is becoming more common."

The report comes about after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change invited the group of climate experts to write the report. The IPCC decided to write the report to shed light on the impact of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, and with the intention of increasing the response to climate change.