How climate change is strengthening fires, hurricanes and 'weather on steroids'

APTOPIX Western Wildfires
Seen in a long camera exposure, the Caldor Fire burns as a chairlift sits motionless at the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Eldorado National Forest, Calif. The main buildings at the ski slope's base survived as the main fire front passed.
Noah Berger | AP

This week, the Caldor Fire has threatened South Lake Tahoe. Hurricane Ida wrecked the power grid around New Orleans, then flooded New York and the Northeast. And 2021 just broke the record for the hottest meteorological summer ever in the Twin Cities, Duluth and Brainerd.

How is climate change linked to these three separate extreme weather events? John Abraham, a professor of thermal sciences at the University of St. Thomas, sat down with MPR chief meteorologist and Climate Cast host Paul Huttner to make the connections.

Abraham explained that rising ocean temperatures are making hurricanes stronger.

Abraham also said that climate change is drying out the western part of the U.S., and this dryness in combination with greater heat is making wildfires in the region more damaging and frequent.

And in the middle part of the country, Abraham described a new climate pattern of “weather on steroids,” as rain comes in heavy downbursts interspersed with dry, warm periods.

To hear more, click play on the audio player above or subscribe to the Climate Cast podcast.

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