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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

One way we're each experiencing climate change today is in the form of extreme weather.

Why it matters: According to numerous studies, climate change is making some events, like heatwaves and heavy downpours, more intense and more likely to occur. These can be deadly, damaging and expensive.

"There is essentially no uncertainty that the Earth is warming, and that we're responsible. There is uncertainty in what exactly this means, for whom, and where.  This uncertainty isn't comforting, it's terrifying: if we knew exactly what was coming, we could plan ahead. But we don't, and we're facing a huge and certain threat partially in the dark."
— NASA climate scientist Kate Marvel to Axios

Between the lines: Think of climate change as an aggravating factor in our weather, rather than something that causes a specific event to occur. For example, Axios' Amy Harder wrote that climate change "is like diabetes for the planet," because it aggravates pre-existing conditions.

  • Heat waves: Scientists have the most confidence when it comes to making a connection between heat waves and global warming.
  • Heavy precipitation events: Similarly, scientists are confident in making links between heavy downpours and climate change, since a warmer atmosphere carries more water vapor.
  • Hurricanes: We know that climate change is melting land ice, which is causing sea levels to rise.
  • Wildfires: Most scientific studies show that large wildfires across the western U.S. have increased in recent decades. The two biggest reasons:
    • Hotter temperatures: Forests dry out and are more primed for wildfires that grow more rapidly than they otherwise would have been with lower temperatures.
    • More firefighting: The century-old practice of suppressing wildfires has ironically helped cause wildfires to be more intense when they do burn because there is more forest to burn.

What's next: Scientists are racing to get a better understanding of the stability of the planet's ice sheets, which determine sea level rise and coastal flooding.

  • Recent studies have revised sea level projections upward from just a few years ago.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: Axios energy reporter Amy Harder contributed reporting.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a powerful and potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring an array of hazards, from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten coastal property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Republican-led Pennsylvania court deems mail-in voting law unconstitutional

Workers count ballots for the 2020 Presidential election at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Hannah Yoon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Republican-led Pennsylvania court on Friday ruled that the state's mail-in voting law is unconstitutional.

Driving the news: Three Republican judges sided with Republican challengers and ruled that no-excuse mail-in voting is prohibited under the state's constitution. Two Democrats on the panel dissented.

2 hours ago - World

China's ambassador warns Taiwan could spark "military conflict" with U.S.

Photo: Liu Jie/Xinhua via Getty Images

China's ambassador to the U.S. warned in a rare interview with NPR that if Taiwanese authorities "keep going down the road for independence," it would "most likely" lead to a "military conflict" between the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Chinese officials rarely speak in such blunt terms, but veteran diplomat Qin Gang was unequivocal: "The Taiwan issue is the biggest tinderbox between China and the United States."

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