Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Student David Wright wrote about climate for Physics Today

Posted: September 14, 2015

Student David Wright wrote about climate for Physics Today Lake-effect snow is evident in this image, notably on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. Credit: NASA

Doctoral Student David Wright wrote an article this September for Physics Today titled, “Was this storm caused by climate change?”

According to the article, the question “was this storm due to climate change?” has become commonplace in storm coverage in recent years.

“In considering the question, we must first distinguish between climate and weather,” Wright states. “Weather means the conditions and variability of the atmosphere at a specific location or region over a short time scale, such as minutes or days. Climate, on the other hand, means the aggregate of weather over a long time scale, such as years or decades. Weather is therefore aggregated in the climate of a given region.”

Wright argues that the question would be more useful it was phrased, “How was this weather system affected by climate change?”

“It is hard to say whether a current event happened due to changes in the climate, but it might be practical to consider how the intensity and dynamics of the system were influenced by changes to the ingredients that make up a storm,” the article states.

To read the full piece, please visit

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