Global Weirding

Katharine Hayhoe
Climate Scientist

Climate change involves more than just global warming, the long-term rise in the average temperature of the planet. For many of us, its impacts are most evident in the increasingly unpredictable and “weirder” weather patterns we’re experiencing.

Global weirding speaks to the complex ways climate change is affecting weather globally. It refers to the fact that many extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and/or more severe than they were in the past.

As the planet warms, we’re seeing more record-breaking heatwaves. Wildfire seasons are longer, and fires are burning greater areas. Hurricanes and other tropical storms are intensifying faster, becoming stronger, and dumping more rain. Heavy downpours and flash flooding are more frequent, and droughts are more severe.

Every part of the globe is witnessing these changes. The United States, for example, experienced an average of one billion-dollar weather or climate disaster every four months in the 1980s. By the 2010s, however, a disaster was occurring every three weeks, on average.

“Global weirding” affects us all, but it doesn’t affect us all equally. Communities that are already marginalised, lacking access to clean water, sufficient food, or reliable housing, are often most vulnerable to these disasters. They are impacted more strongly, and take longer to recover. “Global weirding” sounds the alarm, underscoring the urgent need for climate action to ensure a safe and liveable future for all.

Global Weirdening Pamela EA Climate Words

Scotland's Summer of 2023, characterized by unpredictable weather during Storm Betty, showcased the impact of the cyclical El Niño effect and climate change, offering a glimpse into future climatic shifts with the fifth warmest and wetter-than-average summer on record. Hebrides Sea, Scotland, 2023.
Photography By Pamela EA