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Increasing Climate Extremes and the New Climate Dice

By James Hansen, Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy


Abstract. We address questions raised about our study "The New Climate Dice " by using longer base periods that include the 1930s. We show that the 2012 summer heat wave in the United States (June-July data) exceeds any that occurred in the 1930s. We reconfirm our conclusion that the increasing extremity of heat waves and the area covered by extreme events is caused by global warming. The location and timing of weather extremes depends on many factors and to a large degree is a matter of chance. Changing climate can be described, usefully and realistically, by the combination of "climate dice " and a shifting, broadening "bell curve", an approach that we believe can be appreciated by the general public. Our recent paper (1), popularly described as "The New Climate Dice " although the publishers eliminated that phrase from the paper's title, showed that rapid global warming during the past three decades is driving a large increase in extreme heat waves with important consequences. Our paper was greeted with enthusiasm by many scientists. A perceptive review and discussion by Karl and Katz of the changing "bell curve", which we use to quantitatively describe local temperature anomalies, will appear soon in the journal that published our paper (2). In addition, a few media outlets included strong criticisms of our study. First, it was stated tha

Year: 2012
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