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Is climate change connected to recent extreme weather?

Sky shot of KCMO
Posted at 3:38 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 16:38:37-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Midwest has been exposed to extreme weather conditions rarely seen in December.

On Wednesday, Dec. 15, Kansas City recorded temperatures in the 70s and a high wind warning was issued.

"It's just a function of the fact that in Kansas City, here we're located at the confluence of air masses, and we're impacted sometimes by very strong southerly flow that comes with very warm air," explained Dr. Jimmy Adegoke, professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

This latest round of extreme weather conditions comes days after a rare and deadly tornado outbreak in the Midwest and Southern U.S.

What role does climate change play in these unusual conditions? Adegoke says there's no clear connection between tornado occurrences and climate change, but there is knowledge about the storm systems tornadoes come from.

"There's a very clear link now between changing climate, the warming atmosphere and the occurrence of those large weather systems," Adegoke said. "So, we're going to see more of those. The frequency of those are going to increase as we go forward into the future."

Adegoke adds greenhouse gases are already in the atmosphere and there's enough carbon dioxide to guarantee warming in the future. However, he said he believes there's work that can be done to prevent further damage.

"I think we, for instance, in the United States need to continue to play a leadership role globally in terms of trying to get agreements and countries together to reduce our footprint, the greenhouse gases footprint," Adegoke said.