In the last few years, teams of scientists have developed a consistent protocol for rapidly analyzing the influence of climate change on extreme weather events. Within a week of the disaster, reports have been available to inform the conversation about whether we can expect more events like it in the future.
But on Wednesday, we saw the first example of something new—an analysis published before the event even happened. A group led by Stony Brook University’s Kevin Reed ran a very simple computer model experiment on Hurricane Florence—which isn’t due to make landfall until Friday—and quickly released the top-line results.
The rapid studies we’ve been seeing are done by examining the historical weather record to estimate how rare and extreme a given storm or heat event would be in that area of the globe. From there, climate model simulations are used to see if climate change is expected to change the frequency of that type of event.