World Wildlife Fund WWF Climate Blog

Event on 6 June 2013: "Going to Extremes: The Alarming Science Behind Climate Change’s Increasingly Wild Weather"

  • Date: 03 June 2013
  • Author: Nick Sundt

Join us for a joint Climate Desk Live and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) event moderated by Chris Mooney featuring Stu Ostro, Senior Director of Weather Communications at the Weather Channel; and Jennifer Francis, Research Professor, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. They will be discussing the alarming science behind climate change's increasingly wild weather. Chris Mooney is a science and political journalist, podcaster, and the host of Climate Desk Live.

  • Date and Time:Thursday, June 6, 2013, 4:30 p.m. (1630 hrs) EST.
  • Location: WWF Building, 1250 24th St., NW, Washington, DC.  A reception will follow.
  • To attend, please RSVP here (free and open to the public).  If you cannot make it, watch the online livestream at  The video subsequently will be archived and available at

Hurricane Sandy Damage along the New Jersey coast, 30 October 2012.Stu Ostro is a senior meteorologist at the Weather Channel, and was a longtime climate change skeptic—until the devastating 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, when he started documenting hundreds of cases of extreme and unusual weather and the patterns associated with them, and became convinced that something is very off about the atmosphere.

Jennifer Francis is a top climate researcher focused on the Arctic, whose work has drawn dramatic attention in the context of the very warm U.S. winter of 2012 (and attendant droughts and wildfires), the Russian heat wave and Pakistan floods of 2010, and other extreme weather events.

Both are now leading voices in diagnosing the wild weather that the world has seen of late—most recently, an intense winter in the UK that threatens to last throughout April.

For Ostro and Francis, the explanation for what we’re seeing is simple. More heat in the Earth’s system due to global warming is felt everywhere, and that includes the massive-scale patterns of atmospheric circulation that give us our weather.

Ostro’s observations suggest that global warming is increasing the atmosphere’s thickness, leading to stronger and more persistent ridges of high pressure, which in turn are a key to temperature, rainfall, and snowfall extremes and topsy-turvy weather patterns like we’ve had in recent years.

Francis’s scientific story is complementary. She sees the rapid warming of the Arctic weakening the northern hemisphere jet stream, and thus, once again, slowing down the weather, leaving a given pattern stuck in place for longer (making any event potentially more disruptive and extreme).

We don’t know—yet—what the next extreme manifestations of these large-scale changes in weather patterns will be. But as Ostro and Francis warn, we had better be getting ready for them --because this isn't your grandparent's Planet Earth any longer.

Online Resources


  • Climate Desk Live.  Climate Desk Live is a briefing series in DC hosted by award-winning science writer Chris Mooney, in conversation with an array of scientists, pollsters, analysts, policymakers, and journalists. Learn more about previous briefings, and those upcoming, here. To attend please RSVP to [email protected]; you can livestream any Climate Desk Live session at
  • World Wildlife Fund

Stu Ostro:

  • Stu Ostro's Meteorology Blog - Weather Underground
  • Stu Ostro | Facebook
  • Stu Ostro on Twitter
  • A Connection between Global Warming and Synoptic Meteorology.  Stu's massive (1000+ slides) Powerpoint presentation (in PDF format), most recently updated on 6 May 2013. He explains: "In this set of slides, I will take you chronologically...through my evolution; my overall hypothesis and the conclusions to which I’ve come based on my observations are interspersed throughout...[A]fter originating as a ppt [Powerpoint presentation] for the first talk I ever gave on the topic, this has grown to become a compendium of cases of extreme and/or unusualweather events in recent years (regardless of the degree of influence of global warming upon them) ..."  His "Ostro Hypothesis" is that global warming is unevenly affecting the thickness of the atmosphere (what meteorologist call the geopotential height of the atmosphere, the height above sea level where atmospheric pressure is at a specific level). He argues that this is affecting large scale circulation of the atmosphere and is implicated in many of the recent climate extremes in the northern hemisphere. He was among the first to publicly suggest that the rapid Arctic warming and sea ice decline was contributing to the changes he was observing in atmospheric circulation.

Jennifer Francis:

Video: Extreme weather patterns and the possible role of climate change.  WWF Climate Blog, 26 May 2013.  "Face the Nation (CBS) today (26 May 2013) features WFOR's Chief Meteorologist David Bernard, Climate Central's Chief Climatologist Heidi Cullen, TIME Magazine's Jeffrey Kluger and American Meteorological Society President Marshall Shepherd discussing recent extreme weather events, the upcoming hurricane season (starting 1 June), and the role of climate change in recent climate extremes."