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Droughts and Floods May Level Off until 2050, but Then Watch Out

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Droughts and Floods May Level Off until 2050, but Then Watch Out

Strange waves in the jet stream foretell a future full of heat waves and floods

Scientific American,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A look at why the weather is getting more extreme – and what to expect in the future.


Editorial Rating

8

Qualities

  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening
  • Hot Topic

Recommendation

The extreme weather you’ve been seeing around the world in recent years might lead you to wonder what might be in store for the future. Atmospheric scientist Michael E. Mann’s clear description of what’s causing the phenomenon and how it is likely to play out in decades ahead provides valuable context for preparing to deal with future disasters, and suggests concrete actions people can take now to minimize future harm. Though the theoretical physics might be more information than some readers want or need, the take-home message is clear: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions now.

Summary

The jet stream plays a big role in Northern Hemisphere weather.

Some 35,000 feet above the Northern Hemisphere, warm and cold air converge to create a river of wind known as the “jet stream.”

The jet stream bends due to Earth’s rotation, with northward bends creating pockets of dry, hot weather and southern bends creating pockets of cool, wet weather. Because the bends occur in both directions at the same time, the two kinds of weather extremes can happen at the same time.

As the atmosphere warms, the jet stream’s motion changes and alters...

About the Author

Michael E. Mann is a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He has written or co-written five books, including Dire Predictions, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, The Madhouse Effect, The Tantrum That Saved the World and The New Climate War.


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