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Extreme Weather: How Supercomputers Prove the Effects of Global Warming

Using a supercomputer, Meteorological Research Institute researchers have quantified the role of global warming in heat waves and other extreme weather events.

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Extreme weather events are occurring more frequently throughout the globe. Research to determine whether global warming is the cause is gaining attention. This research, dubbed "event attribution," uses supercomputers to reveal causal relationships. Results can quantify the threats of global warming and are thus expected to raise awareness of climate change among the public. 

Quantifying the Cause of Extreme Weather

Extreme weather such as heat waves, heavy rains, and droughts have become common occurrences worldwide in recent years. Likewise, Japan is hit by intense heat waves nearly every year. Although such abnormal weather events are more likely to occur due to the global warming trend, not all can be explained by global warming. 

When heat waves occur, people often wonder if global warming is the cause. However, the answer to this question is hard to quantify. Yukiko Imada, senior researcher of climate dynamics at the Meteorological Research Institute, explains why. 

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Kumagaya City, Saitama Prefecture recorded the highest temperature in Japan ever at 41.1 degrees Celsius in July 2018 (©Sankei).

"The number one cause of extreme weather is chance fluctuations in the atmosphere. For example, Japan experiences heat waves due to a strong Pacific high-pressure system caused by the meandering of the jet stream. Until about 10 years ago, it was impossible to distinguish between the effects of natural fluctuations like these and the impacts of rising temperatures alongside global warming."

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(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Yosuke Osanai, The Sankei Shimbun