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This elegant new department of local weather science relies upon upon large networks of computer systems linked collectively to course of dizzying volumes of knowledge. By evaluating precise excessive occasions to a base-line pc mannequin that portrays what Earth’s local weather system would seem like absent any human-caused emissions, Otto and her colleagues can calculate, for instance, that human-caused local weather change made the disastrous rainfall over Houston, Texas, related to 2017’s Hurricane Harvey 3 times extra prone to happen.

Of the 190 excessive climate occasions Otto’s crew has studied to date, local weather change has made about two-thirds of them extra intense or extra possible. (This underscores an essential level that Otto makes, albeit with some trepidation about the way it may be misused by climate-change deniers. Not each excessive climate occasion will be attributed to local weather change. Most, it seems to be like, however not all.)

These findings have profound implications for public coverage and planning, and can result in much more helpful analysis sooner or later. Otto and her colleagues, just like the Cassandra of Greek delusion, have some capacity to see the longer term. For all our sakes, let’s hope they don’t share Cassandra’s curse of by no means being believed.

Tom Sandborn lives and writes in Vancouver. He welcomes your suggestions and story ideas at

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