Climate variability (the natural variation of climate at a location) and climate change (anthropogenic causes of climate change) manifest themselves in a variety of ways over a wide range of spatial and tempo ral scales. Examples are temperature change, precipitation change, and changes in the occurrences of hazardous and damaging weather phenomena (extreme weather). Climate variability and change may be detrimental or even beneficial to a region depending o n their resultant effects.
Climate Variability and Change
Extreme weather is weather phenomena occurring outside of one’s experience leading to significant societal impacts (e.g., property damage, loss of life, economic impacts).
1. Hail causes millions of dollars of damage to crops and property each year. This year in Jamestown, North Dakota, la rge hailstones damaged a considerable portion of the city. Last year, Grand Forks experienced a severe thunderstorm with hailstones up to 2 inches in diameter with millions in damage to cars, homes, crops, and other property. Some of the largest hail ob served (with diameters to 6 inches) falls in the region known as "Tornado Alley" over portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
2. Tornadoes are probably the most feared natural phenomena. More occur on the North American continent than anywhere else in the world, though they can (and have) affect(ed) nearly all regions of the world. With wind speeds in the st rongest tornadoes exceeding 300 miles per hour, these storms can cause enormous damage. Fortunately, their scale is relatively small (diameters range from about 50 feet to over one mile) so that they affect a limited area.
While virtually no doubt exists that we, as a region, have witnessed a wide variation in weather over the past decade, it is not presently possible to show a causal relationship between human activity and climate change. Any climate change is superimposed on natural climate variability and it is difficult to discern the two. More investigation of the above subjects is needed, which is part of RWIC’s research mission.
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