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Climate and Environment

UCLA Study Links Human-Driven Climate Change To Extreme Rain And Snow

A person wearing a safety vest and carrying a shovel stands near a gaping hole in Highway 1 where the road collapsed into the ocean.
Workers assess the scene where a section of Highway 1 collapsed into the Pacific Ocean near Big Sur, California on January 31, 2021. Heavy rains caused debris flows of trees, boulders and mud that washed out a 150-foot section of the road.
(JOSH EDELSON
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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Scientists at UCLA have confirmed a link between human-driven climate change and extreme precipitation.

Previous studies suggested a connection between rising greenhouse gas emissions and stronger, more frequent rain and snow events, but researchers struggled to find direct evidence.

As a solution, UCLA researchers developed a computer system capable of finding and identifying subtle patterns in weather data from around the world.

Alex Hall, the director of the UCLA Center for Climate Science and co-author of the study, said the patterns match up with climate models.

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“The models are predicting that this signal should become evident somewhere in the early 2000s, and that is in fact when we see it emerging in the observations as well,” he said. “So there's a nice match between what the models are predicting and what we actually observe in the observational record.”

The study also shows that extreme rain and snow storms are now more likely around the world because of climate change, and emphasized the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions.

The opening line of the study states:

Extreme precipitation can have devastating direct societal impacts such as flooding, soil erosion, and agricultural damage, as well as causing indirect health risks and impacts.

Read the study: Anthropogenic influence on extreme precipitation over global land areas seen in multiple observational datasets

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