Science begins to connect climate to weather events
This latest science is featured in a companion piece to The State of the Climate in 2011 report, which is led by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US and is published as part of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).
The new report, Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective, includes contributions from the Met Office and many other research institutions from around the world. For the first time it includes so-called 'climate attribution studies', looking at six key weather events shortly after they have happened.
Dr Peter Stott, Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution at the Met Office and one of the editors of the report, said: "The research here pushes the boundaries of attribution science in quantifying, so soon after the weather events in question, how climate change has altered the odds of their occurrence.
"While we didn't find evidence that climate change has affected the odds of all the extreme weather events we looked at, we did see that some events were significantly more likely. Overall we're seeing that human influence is having a marked impact on some types of extreme weather."
We make the distinction between climate and weather to rebut the foolish argument that "We had a cold winter, so there is no climate change!" But as we understand these systems more fully, that distinction will fade in importance.