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Extreme Weather, Its Causes and Consequences Research Paper


Introduction

The world has been experiencing extreme weather conditions over the last several decades. According to scientists, this phenomenon has been influenced by the increasing rate of climate change because of global warming. The high rate of industrialization has been a major contributor to global warming due to an increase in human activities (White 30). The high volume of greenhouse gases in the environment has led to the diminution of the ozone layer, thus reducing its effectiveness about protecting the earth’s surface from the sun. Although historic records indicate that extreme weather conditions have been experienced since time immemorial, climatologists argue that those being experienced in the 21st Century are of a bigger magnitude (Wehner 824).

Extreme weather conditions are characterized by unpredictable, unprecedented, unevenly distributed, and unseasonable atmospheric conditions. Historically, climatologists were able to classify various regions depending on the atmospheric conditions they encountered at different times and magnitudes (Sandford 61). However, this phenomenon has changed a lot because the weather patterns are very irregular and the atmospheric conditions are extremely high. Regions that were classified as semi-arid are rapidly graduating into arid areas due to prolonged periods of high temperatures and low rainfall levels (Sobel 450). The clearing of vegetation for agricultural, industrial, and settlement purposes has been the main human activity that has contributed to global warming across the world. An event that shows the world is experiencing extreme weather conditions is Hurricane Katrina that hit the United States in 2005.

Problem statement

Research has established that the earth is currently experiencing extreme weather conditions compared to those that people have been accustomed to for a long time. Global warming has a lot to do with the severe weather because of the high human activities (Sandford 69). However, some people have a different opinion and believe that nothing much has changed about the atmospheric conditions experienced across the world. They argue that weather patterns are the only thing that has changed. Even though the patterns have changed, they fail to admit that they are very irregular, unprecedented and often happen outside their usual seasons.

Extreme weather conditions are characterized by powerful rains, snowstorms, and intense drought periods all of which are extreme and a result of climate change (Sobel 454). Global warming is a reality and challenge in the contemporary world that cannot be ignored anymore. Climatologists described the first decade of the 21st century as the hottest in history. The ozone layer has been worn-out by great lengths, thus making the average temperature across the world to increase. This has in turn altered the weather patterns that people were accustomed to over the years. There is an urgent need to identify ways in which its impacts can be addressed to restore the atmospheric conditions to its normality. The first step towards achieving this feat is appreciating the fact that climate change is the major cause of the extreme weather conditions and human activities need to be more environmentally conscious (Sandford 98).

Discussion

Studies have established that the increase in the average temperature on earth has resulted in intense rain, snowstorms, and severe drought across various parts of the world. In areas that experience intense rain due to high-intensity storms, flooding has become a major challenge that people have to deal with regularly. Due to the high temperatures, the flash floods often result in extreme precipitation, which has had serious negative impacts because most of the affected areas are never mapped as being vulnerable (White 30). Tornados are also an effect of climate change that contributes to extreme weather conditions. They tend to form under high temperatures when moist air at the earth’s surface encounters the drier air in the atmosphere (Olsson 16).

Tornadoes often cause a lot of distraction to infrastructure, especially if they were not anticipated and of unknown magnitude. Studies have established that most people across the world are getting used to the extreme weather conditions. They describe them as the new normal because there is very little being done to take things to their normal state, while the few strategies that have been tested have not yielded the projected outcomes (Olsson 17). There is an urgent need for all the relevant authorities and major stakeholders to create global awareness about the impact that various human activities are having on the atmosphere and their negative influence on climatic patterns (Sobel 457). Human beings have an ethical responsibility of taking care of the environment, thus it is important to engage them in all strategies of the protection of the biosphere.

Studies have established that some of the major extreme weather conditions were on the rise over the last couple of decades. Reliable evidence confirms that the increase is closely related to human activities (Olsson 20). They have contributed a lot to the high amount of greenhouse gases in the environment over the years. The higher the volumes of these gases, the warmer the earth gets because the ozone layer keeps being depleted (Olsson 25). This in turn triggers several changes in the earth’s climate such as heatwaves, prolonged droughts due to low rainfall levels, and some areas experiencing heavy downpours. Heatwaves refer to periods when the earth experiences abnormally high temperatures that extend for a long period. Some of the longest heatwaves recorded in the United States lasted for a month across Texas in 2011 and Midwest in 2012.

According to climatologists, human-induced climate change has increased the chances of such extreme weather events happening and causing substantial damage (Myers 100). Drought is evidence of the world experiencing extreme weather conditions. A shortage of rainfall over a long period is a situation that arises due to extremely high temperatures that increase the rate of evaporation in the earth’s surface and loss of moisture from plants due to dry soils (Wehner 827). Other factors such as high wind speed and reduced humidity also play a major role in necessitating drought. The irregular nature of rainfall patterns due to climate change contributes to the highest number of drought cases reported in most parts of the world (Myers 109). Even in areas that are known to have high precipitation, cases of drought are a huge possibility as long as the level of the earth’s temperature does not come down or extends for a long period.

Heavy downpours are also a notable sign of the extreme weather conditions currently experienced across the world. According to climatologists, the changes in rainfall patterns and amounts happened a lot over the last couple of decades. Certain areas that were mapped as high rainfall regions have been experiencing heavier downpours regularly (Myers 116). This has resulted in heavy flooding and huge destruction of roads and other forms of infrastructure. Flooding also results in a high rate of precipitation, which climatologists say contributes to the high frequency of heavy downpours (Olsson 51). This normally happens because of the high temperatures caused by climate change. The atmosphere tends to absorb more vapors when it is filled with warm air. Once the vapor has been trapped into the atmosphere, it is quickly availed to systems that necessitate the process of forming rainfall. It is important to note that climatic changes play a major role in the alterations that are often witnessed in rainfall patterns.

The same case applies to storms, whose intensity and frequency is heavily dependent on human-induced climate change (Latin 114). There are four major types of flooding associated with the extreme weather conditions experienced across the world. The first one is flash flooding that often happens in steep waterways and is mainly caused by intense precipitation. The second one is urban flooding, which is caused by heavy downpours that happen over short durations. According to climatologists, urban areas are prone to flooding due to the nature of its infrastructure that creates impervious surfaces such as pavements and parking lots (Latin 116). The third one is river flooding that happens when the amount of water drained into a river is beyond its holding capacity. The final one is coastal flooding characterized by storms that push large volumes of water towards the shore. Coastal flooding is heavily necessitated by human-induced climate change whereby an increase in precipitation levels leads to heavy downpours that result in the sea level rising (Latin 121).

Hurricanes are also a reliable type form of evidence to prove that the world is currently experiencing extreme weather conditions. They are severe tropical cyclones characterized by heavy rains and winds moving at a speed of 73-136 knots (Myers 166). One of the main factors behind hurricanes is an irregular increase in the temperature of the sea surface. This element coupled with the increased concentration of gases that trap heat from the atmosphere has led to the occurrence of high magnitude hurricanes more frequently (Tebaldi 491). Climatologists argue that increased human activity near large water bodies and unsustainable management of both solid and liquid waste has contributed a lot to the several hurricanes that have hit different parts of the world (Franklin 3581).

The same element has also affected the occurrence of winter storms whose frequency and intensity have greatly increased over the years. Reports indicate that most of the storms that have been experienced in the United States over the last couple of decades have resulted in heavy financial losses. The main reason for this phenomenon is the fact that the storms have become unpredictable in terms of the time of occurrence and magnitude. These two elements have made it extremely hard for the relevant authorities to put in place effective disaster preparedness and mitigation strategies (Latin 200). However, reports also identify factors such as the increasing global population and reducing poverty levels as major contributors to climate change that has affected weather patterns. Many people have resources to buy cars, build more homes, and produce more waste all of which contribute heavily to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Conclusion

Climatologists argue that one of the factors responsible for climate change in the world is human activities that have led to the expansion of the greenhouse effect. Although studies have established that there are possible causes of climate change that are not related to human activities, it is important to note that human-induced climate change has played the biggest role in altering weather patterns across the world. Volcanic eruptions and orbital changes are natural causes of climate change that have affected the atmospheric balance, thus leading to the depletion of the ozone layer. The extreme weather conditions experienced across the world are because of climate change.

Climate change has resulted in water bodies drying up, shrinking of glaciers, as well as longer and shorter maturity periods for plants. The degree of global temperatures has also changed a lot due to climate change. Some of the notable events that provide evidence that the world is experiencing extreme weather conditions include tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, storms, floods, and heavy downpours. There is an urgent need for human beings to reconsider how the various activities they engage in are affecting the atmospheric balance. All the relevant authorities should come together and make sure they have the support of everyone in a bid to influence several changes. Everyone needs to understand the importance of managing global warming by reducing emissions and sustainable waste management.

Works Cited

Franklin, Christopher. “Atlantic Hurricane Database Uncertainty and Presentation of a New Database Format.” Monthly Weather Review, vol.141, no. 10, 2013, pp. 3576-3592.

Latin, Howard. Climate Change Policy Failures: Why Conventional Mitigation Approaches cannot Succeed. World Scientific, 2012.

Myers, Norman. Environmental Issues and Solutions: A Modular Approach. Cengage Learning, 2013.

Olsson, Gustaf. Water and Energy: Threats and Opportunities. IWA Publishing, 2015.

Sandford, Robert. Storm Warning: Ater and Climate Security in a Changing World. Rocky Mountain Books Ltd, 2015.

Sobel, Kerry. “Response of Tropical Sea Surface Temperature, Precipitation, and Tropical Cyclone-Related Variables to Changes in Global and Local Forcing.” Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, vol.5, no.2, 2013, pp. 447-458.

Tebaldi, Duffy. “Increasing Prevalence of Extreme Summer Temperatures in the U.S.” Climatic Change, vol. 11, no. 2, 2012, pp. 487-495.

Wehner, John. “Monitoring and Understanding Changes in Heat Waves, Cold Waves, Floods, and Droughts in the United States: State of Knowledge.” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 94, no. 6, 2013, pp. 821-834.

White, Iain. Water and the City: Risk, Resilience and Planning for a Sustainable Future. Routledge, 2013.

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