Finding Answers and Spreading Messages of Caution and Hope on Climate


Researchers produced forecasts that show combined impact of heat and humidity will markedly increase in many areas.

Lamont Associate Research Professor and climatologist Radley Horton is determined. His work — investigating extreme weather events, discerning the limitations of climate models, predicting the current and future ramifications of climate change, and generating adaptation strategies — is matched by his commitment to communicating his findings and the under-appreciated threats associated with global warming.

“It’s real. It’s us. It’s serious. The window of time to prevent widespread, dangerous impacts is closing fast,” Horton recently told a group of business leaders. He believes that to confront climate change effectively, scientists must translate their work clearly and regularly to stakeholders and society’s power brokers.
“We have to meet them in their decision-making context,” he explains.

In the past few years, research from Horton’s group has underscored the impacts of extreme heat on commercial aviation, illuminated how the tree-killing southern pine beetle will expand its range of devastation should minimum temperatures continue to increase (as predicted), and how the combination of hot and humid weather will endanger the health and livelihoods of many global populations. A research paper on this last topic this year captured widespread public attention, especially given the recent trend of record-breaking summer temperatures from one year to the next.

“Within the next two generations, heat and humidity could create an existential threat to some coastal populations who lack access to air conditioning,” says Horton.

Continue reading at Columbia University Earth Institute

Image via Columbia University Earth Institute