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Human impacts fuel weather extremes

The serious floods that hit southern England in the winter of 2013-14 were at least partly a consequence of climate change driven by the global warming that results from fossil fuel combustion.

To be precise, the extreme rainfall that led to £431 million (US$622 million) of damage was made 43% more likely by human-induced climate change, according to a new study led by the University of Oxford.

And weather events such extreme drought that has blighted agriculture and blistered the orchards of California can no longer be seen as a purely natural hazard, according to a separate study by a team from the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Nathalie Schaller, postdoctoral research assistant in the University of Oxford Department of Physics, and colleagues report in Nature Climate Change journal that the succession of storms that delivered unprecedented amounts of rain to southern England at the close of 2013 could be considered as a once-in-a-century event, but climate change made such a flood measurably more likely.

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