American Meteorological Society

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

Published date December 15, 2016

Explaining Extreme Events of 2015 from a Climate Perspective

After five years of the BAMS Explaining Extreme Events report, we're seeing mounting evidence that climate change is making heat waves more extreme in many regions around the world. As we get better at distinguishing the influence of climate change from natural variability, the local significance and impacts of this global phenomenon are becoming clearer.

Stephanie C. Herring, lead editor and scientist with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information

  • Finds that climate change is altering extreme event risk
  • Finds that human-caused climate change very likely increased the severity of heat waves that plagued India, Pakistan, Europe, East Africa, East Asia, and Australia in 2015 and helped make it the warmest year on record
  • Identifies evidence of human-influenced climate change for:
    • Ten extreme heat events, including heat waves in Europe, India, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Japan, and Australia
    • The record average global temperature in 2015
    • Record-low Arctic sea ice in March
    • Alaska's intense wildfire season
    • Extreme drought in southwestern Canada
    • Extreme May rainfall in southeast China
    • Florida's "sunny day" flood in September
    • Record winter sunshine in the United Kingdom
    • Drought in Northeast and Southern Africa
  • No climate change signal was found for:
    • Outbreaks of extreme cold in the eastern US and Canada
    • The late onset of Nigeria's spring rainy season
    • Heavy daily precipitation in December over Chennai, India