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Science Piles Up on Climate

(CN) - Greenhouse gas emissions and other human activities intensified 14 extreme weather events in 2014, including tropical cyclones, worldwide heat waves and flooding, an international panel of scientists said.

A panel led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studied 28 extreme weather events in 2014 and found humans directly affected Hawaii's tropical cyclones, Canada's heavy flooding and a deadly Himalayan snowstorm.

NOAA scientists said the study, "Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective," details the impact humans are having on certain worldwide weather events through statistical analysis, in the hope that it will "help communities better prepare for future extreme events."

"Understanding our influence on specific extreme weather events is groundbreaking science that will help us adapt to climate change," said Stephanie Herring, lead editor of the study.

Researchers found extreme heat waves are becoming more common worldwide and that the December 2013 heat wave in Argentina was made five times more likely because of climate change. The study also linked extreme heat events in China and Korea to human-caused climate change.

The year 2014 was the warmest on record. A separate World Bank study released Sunday estimated that climate change could force 100 million people into poverty by 2030. Rising temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to crop failures and higher food prices globally and primarily affecting poorer regions and countries, according to the report .

The World Bank report calls for immediate emissions-reduction policies to combat climate change and protect millions of people from natural disasters.

"Such concerted action, implemented quickly and inclusively, can help ensure that millions of people are not pushed back into poverty by the multifaceted impacts of climate change," the report states.

While NOAA researchers linked certain heat waves to manmade climate change, they did not find a direct relationship between drought and climate change, nor could they link California's devastating 2014 wildfire season to climate change.

Half of the weather events studied by the researchers showed no signs of being affected by climate change.

"For other types of extreme events, such as droughts, heavy rains and winter storms, a climate change influence was found in some instances and not in others," according to the report.

The 172-page peer-reviewed study measured the 28 weather events through a method known as event attribution. Scientists use event attribution to gauge the impact of an actual event, such as the Argentinean heat wave, against the likely strength of a heat wave in a world without humans.

Both studies represent a growing trend in climate science, with governments and businesses craving information to help prepare for a warming planet.

"As the field of climate attribution science grows, resource managers, the insurance industry and many others can use the information more effectively for improved decision making and to help communities better prepare for future extreme events," Herring said.

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