The Weather Facts Of Climate Change

Extreme weather events have been occurring more frequently than natural variability would suggest. Developing an awareness and understanding of drought, flooding, extreme temperatures, and intense storms can help reduce the prospect of disruptions to global businesses.

One of the questions many have is what is the difference between weather and climate? To coin a phrase to show their relationship, “climate is what you expect and weather is what you get.” According to the American Meteorological Society, the global climate has seen a 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit warming since 1901, which has ultimately impacted the weather around the world every year. To put this into more perspective, 9 out of the 10 warmest years on record globally have occurred since 2005.

The main concern and impact on businesses is the increased volatility of weather. The global temperatures referenced represent an average over all of the earth’s surface, which given the size and tremendous heat capacity of the oceans is quite significant. The 1.4-degree change in climate temperature has contributed to more severe weather events. Extreme events have become more frequent, leading researchers to examine aspects of a more volatile climate system. The following observations have been witnessed in some regions of the world: increased tendency for periods of extreme dryness or wetness, extended intervals of either abnormally warm or cold weather, higher rainfall totals during the heaviest rain events and more focused periods of severe weather.

These increased volatilities impact businesses across the world and across many industries. In 2018, natural disasters and extreme weather resulted in $160 billion worth of damages to business, including agriculture and aviation.

Agriculture is an industry that experiences a number of the impacts from a more volatile weather and climate system. Farmers work to implement measures designed to help offset their risk including planting more heat-tolerant crops, installing drain tiles to remove excess water from fields and increasing the use of pesticides. Commodities will be vulnerable to direct impacts, such as changes in crop and livestock development and yield, as well as indirect impacts from pests and pathogens that emerge in some volatile patterns.

Aviation is also experiencing impacts of climate change and increased volatility. The upper-level winds that encircle the globe, known the jet stream, meander in wavy patterns, which change on daily, weekly, and seasonal time scales. The recent tendency for slower-moving and stationary jet stream orientations could alter the average wind and turbulence patterns, potentially impacting aircraft routing to avoid the more turbulent areas. Recent trends in the past decade show a weakening of the jet stream in more northern latitudes, while stronger winds have been occurring from the central Atlantic into Europe and over the north Pacific. Model simulations of a warming climate suggest that more turbulent patterns could develop in highly traveled flight areas of the northern Atlantic Ocean in future decades.

Recent weather and climate variations have produced a large number of outlier events. Extreme rainfall, drought, and extended periods of abnormal warmth or cold are the most frequent outliers. These events have significantly impacted both regional and local areas throughout the United States. While some of these events have been unusual in their severity, society’s increasing exposure and vulnerability to these events are resulting in greater disruptions.

Awareness of the changing climate and the potential hazards it brings can help businesses and society better plan for increased weather volatility.


This article was originally published on forbes

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