Missouri has experienced deadly tornadoes and devastating flooding this spring. Now some climate scientists are saying they believe some specific extreme weather events can be attributed to climate change.

Press Release from Missouri News Service

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest are nothing new, but the recent deadly tornado in Joplin and devastating flooding of the Mississippi River have folks saying enough is enough. Some climatologists see the hand of climate change operating directly in these extreme weather events.

Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, says the environment in which all these storms are occurring is simply different than it was, for example, 30 years ago.

“When we look at the statistics, we find that the very heavy rains are increasing at a substantial rate. In general, it has become wetter in the U.S., especially east of the Rockies.”

Trenberth says no longer can these storms be attributed just to natural cycles.

“You can’t simply blame this all on natural variability. Natural variability is certainly playing a role. But equally, climate change, which we humans have something to do with, is also playing a role.”

The devastation along the Mississippi and the death and destruction from an unusually high number of tornadoes across the Midwest and South should prompt lawmakers to take action, he says – but they may not.

“Ironically, many of the states that have been most affected by the flooding and the tornadoes have representatives in the Congress who have voted against legislation relating to climate change, such as the legislation affecting the EPA and that agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases.”

He says the increase in the earth’s temperature has led to an even bigger increase in the amount of water vapor over the oceans, contributing to massive storms.