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Global warming increases possibility of heat extremes

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

According to several top scientists, the March heat wave that has shattered records across a wide swath of the U.S. bears some of the hallmarks of global warming.

In email conversations, those same scientific researchers who specialize in studying the role climate change plays in influencing individual extreme events — a burgeoning field known as  “extreme event attribution” — said global warming may have made March’s soaring temperatures more likely to occur, although they add that natural variability has played a key role as well.

Areas with warmer than average temperatures are shown in red; near-normal temperatures are white; and areas that were cooler than the 2000-2011 base period are blue. Photograph: Terra/MODIS/NASA

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