GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 212-4
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM


HAYHOE, Katharine, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University, Holden Hall 72, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409

One of the most tangible ways climate change is affecting us, here and now, is through its impact on extreme events: making heatwaves stronger and more frequent, heavy rainfall more intense, hurricanes stronger, and wildfires burning greater area. The Fourth National Climate Assessment documents observed trends and future projections for every region and sector across the U.S. Individual event analyses go even further, quantifying the extent to which climate change enhanced the rainfall associated with a given hurricane, the likelihood of a devastating heat wave, or the extent of a record-breaking flood. Thanks to these and other scientific advances in understanding of climate extremes over the last decade, it’s now possible to provide a template that connects people’s personal experiences with scientific evidence for climate impacts at the local to regional scale. This in turn addresses the wide-spread and potentially dangerous myth, that climate change doesn’t matter to me. That's why understanding and communicating the relationship between extreme events and long-term climate trends is so important, because it helps us understand: how climate change exacerbates the risks we already face in the places where we live; how we can prepare and build resilience to the risks that will increase in the future; and, most of all, how our future is in our hands. It's our choices that will determine future emissions, and these emissions in turn will drive the magnitude of risks we face--or avoid--in the future.