Climate changes and weather extremes

By Matthew Rainwater

Wondering why the weather has been acting the way it has been?

People only have to look to experts in geography for the answers to those frustrations today in Montgomery Hall Auditorium at 7 p.m.

The second installment of NIU’s Climate Change lecture series will focus on weather extremes, presented by several members of the geography department.

David Changnon, geography professor, will focus on the scientific information gathered from all the weather models and how scientists can use information to better predict weather.

“There needs to be more of a dialogue between scientists, government and the public, and figure out what exactly needs to happen,” Changnon said. “There already has been a step forward in this dialogue, but it needs to be stronger to make change happen.”

The problem, Changnon says, is that atmospheric scientists understand how to integrate the weather information, but don’t fully understand how to integrate that knowledge into public use.

Changnon said scientists need to deal with agricultural and electric companies most, because these groups would utilize the most information.

“Of course, we can’t expect for change to happen tomorrow. That [change] will happen 10 to 15 years from now if work is started,” he said. “We have the people to solve the problem, because the knowledge is there. We just need to be flexible and come up with new and different ideas to get it done.”

Associate geography professor Mace Bentley and assistant geography professor Walker Ashley will speak about weather extremes.

“Our main focus for our part of the lecture will be directed toward tornadoes and hurricanes, because these are high impact events that people seem to focus more on,” Ashley said.

Ashley said many factors contribute to tornadoes and hurricanes, but scientists are unsure if climate change actually affects the amount of storms.

Experts are also trying to figure out if these storms increase or decrease their intensity with changes in climate.

“There are many questions that are still in need of an answer,” Ashley said.