Questions for ‘Fingerprint of climate change shows up in some extreme weather’


California’s Folsom Lake in October 2015. So much water evaporated that a full size truck could drive across parts of the lake bed without getting wet. Studies seek to test whether such extreme weather was driven by climate change.


To accompany feature “Fingerprint of climate change shows up in some extreme weather” 


Before Reading

1.  What is weather? What is extreme weather? Give three examples of extreme weather events.

2.  What is climate? How is climate different from weather?

During Reading

1.  What was the Blob? When and where did it occur?

2.  What are attribution studies?

3.  People often ask if climate change caused a weather event. Is it possible to answer such questions? Why or why not?

4.  How did climate change make Hurricane Harvey worse?

5.  What did the first study, in 2004, find that connected extreme weather to human-induced climate change?

6.  Why did Peter Stott’s weather and climate model start with the year 1851?

7.  What are three ways that models of weather and climate have improved since 2004?  

8.  How did climate change influence the Blob?

9.  How did climate change affect world temperatures in 2016?

10.  What is a basic limitation of all model-based studies, according to Tom Knutson?

After Reading: 

1.  Choose an extreme weather event that happened in your region, or one you heard or read about in the news. Discuss in a group how scientists might investigate whether human activities might have been involved. Draw from the story during your discussion.

2.  At the end of the story, Stephanie Herring notes that researchers outside climate science are becoming more interested in climate attribution studies. These include marine biologists, public health researchers and people who work for insurance companies. Pick one of these three groups and theorize why they might be increasingly interested in climate attribution studies. (Hint: How might the findings from such studies aid them?)


1.  Greater Houston spans 4,300 square kilometers (1,660 square miles). If 1.2 meters (4 feet) of water fell on Houston during Hurricane Harvey, how much water, in liters (gallons) would have fallen on the city in total?