Is Weather Getting Worse?
 
Weather seems getting worse and wilder since "Mother Nature is full of surprises these days". Global warming, a heated topic of today, is often taken for granted to be responsible for the harsh weather. However, scientists, like Kevin E. Trenberth, are cautious in making their judgment. Please read the following article and find out what role El Ni?o and La Ni?a play.
天气正越变越糟?

因为“这些日子大自然母亲充满着意想不到的事情”,看起来天气在越变越糟,越来越狂野。全球变暖是现在的热门话题,常常理所当然地被看成恶劣气候的罪魁祸首。但是,凯文?E?川伯斯这样的科学家在下定论时态度谨慎。请阅读以下文章,看一看厄尔尼诺和拉尼娜现象所起的作用。
 
As you read this, flip your eyes over to the window. The sky is clear, the wind light, and the sun brilliant. Or maybe not - Mother Nature is full of surprises these days. The calendar says it's spring, but there could just as easily be a winter blizzard, a summer swelter, or an autumn cold snap on the other side of that glass pane. Almost in an instant, it seems, the weather shifts from one season to another. And wherever it swings, it seems increasingly likely to be extreme.
当你阅读本文时,请把目光轻快地投向窗外。天空澄净,微风轻拂,日光明媚。也许并不是这样??这些日子, 大自然母亲充满着意想不到的事情。日历上说现在是春天,但窗外完全可能是一场冬季的暴风雪,一阵夏日的酷暑或一股秋天的寒流。几乎是在一瞬之间,气候就好象从一个季节转到了另一个季节。而且不管天气转向何方,它看起来变得越来越极端。
Consider what Mother Nature slung our way last year in May, typically the second worst month for tornadoes. In less than 24 hours, more than 70 hellholes of wind rampaged through Oklahoma and Kansas, killing 49 and causing more than $1 billion in damages. In June, it was heat, as the Northeast began roasting through weeks of the worst drought since the 1960s; 256 people died. This year in January, blizzards pounded the U.S. from Kansas to the Atlantic Ocean. In April, 25 inches of snow fell on parts of New England.
想想看去年五月大自然母亲都给我们带来了些什么,那是第二个遭受龙卷风袭击最严重的月份。在不到二十四小时之内,七十多个“地狱”风暴在俄克拉何马和堪萨斯州横行肆虐,造成49人死亡以及十多亿美元的损失。六月,天气酷热,东北部连续几周在热浪下炙烤,遭受了自六十年代以来最严重的旱情,256人丧生。今年一月,暴风雪横扫美国,从堪萨斯州直至大西洋沿岸。四月,新英格兰部分地区下的雪厚达二十五英 ?。
Why has our weather gone wild? It's the question everyone's asking, but a very tough one to answer. Although many scientists still aren't convinced that it has gone wild, some have begun saying - cautiously, hesitantly - that extreme weather events are occurring with more frequency than at any time in this century, events consistent with the profile of a warming world. "Global warming is real," says Kevin E. Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section of the Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. "The mean temperatures are going up. The key question is: What will it do locally? I think we're going to start feeling its effects in the changes on extremes."
为什么我们的天气变得如此狂野?这是每个人都在问的问题,但是很难回答。虽然许多科学家仍然不相信天气已经失控,但有些人??虽然态度谨慎,仍存疑虑??已经开始说,与本世纪任何时段相比,极端性天气出现的频率愈加频繁,这与全球变暖的量变曲线是吻合的。凯文?E?川伯斯是设在科罗拉多州博耳德市的大气研究中心气候分析部的主任,他说:“全球变暖是事实。”“平均气温在上升。但关键问题是,它会给具体地区带来什么?我认为我们已开始感受到它的影响,天气的变化趋于极端。”
That doesn't mean you can indict weird weather in your neck of the woods as proof. Mother Nature knows how to hide her tracks. She hurls a torrential downpour today and a drought tomorrow followed by gentle rain the next week. To understand a pattern in natural variability, you can't look into the sky; you have got to study data. And for a host of reasons, that isn't easy.
这并不意味着你可以用某一有限区域的怪异天气作为控诉的证据。大自然母亲知道该如何隐藏她的行踪。她今天猛地来一场倾盆大雨,明天是干旱,紧接着是一周柔柔细雨。你不能靠察看天象来了解自然变化的模式,你必须得研究数据。但由于种种原因,这并不容易。
But tallying up the damage is. In the last 20 years, this country has been whacked by $I70 billion worth of weather-related disasters - hurricanes, droughts, floods, and tornadoes. Thirty-eight severe weather events occurred in a single decade, between 1988 and 1999; seven events occurred in 1998 alone - the most for any year on record.
但是计算一下灾害损失却是容易的。过去的二十年里,我们这个国家与气候相关的灾难??飓风、干旱、洪水及龙卷风??造成了高达一千七百亿美元的损失。仅1988年至1999年这十年间就发生了38起严重的气候事件,仅1998年就有7起气候事件,这是有史以来受灾最多的一年。
Globally, insurance companies are calling it a "catastrophe trend". In a report issued last December, Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer, or insurer of insurance companies, noted that the number of natural disasters has increased more than fourfold since the 1950s. Earthquakes, which are not weather-related, caused nearly half the deaths in those catastrophes; storms, floods, and other weather woes killed the other half. In 1999, the number of catastrophes worldwide hit 755, surpassing the record of 702 set only the year before.
从全球范围来看,保险公司把天气变暖称为“灾难趋势”。世界最大的再保险商,即为保险公司提供保险的墨尼黑再保险公司在去年十二月份发行的一份报告中指出,自20世纪50年代以来,自然灾害的数量已经增长了四倍有余。在这些灾难中,和气候无关的地震造成了近一半人的死亡;风暴、洪灾以及其它气候性灾难夺去了另一半人的生命。1999年,全世界的灾难数目达到755起, 超过前一年才创下的702起的记录。
 
In its five-point list of causes for increased damage claims, Munich Re blamed population growth first, climate change fifth. Critics may well seize upon this to diminish claims that the weather is getting worse, but taken together, it's a more frightening picture. Thanks to swelling populations in cities and along coastal areas, more of Earth's passengers are living in the wrong place at the wrong time.
墨尼黑再保险公司在其列出的索赔要求日益增加的五点原因,认为人口增长首当其冲,天气变化则列在第五。一些批评家也许会紧抓住这一点来 轻视天气正越变越糟的观点,但综合起来考虑,这是幅更可怕的画面。幸亏人口增长主要在城市和沿海地区,更多的“地球过客们”是在不适当的时间住在了不适当的地方。
 
Still, the statistics meteorologists have collected on extreme weather events aren't enough to prove that the weather is getting worse. By their very definition, extreme events happen infrequently, and no one has been collecting scientifically sound data long enough to know how common they are. For example, a storm that happens once a century might require two millennia's worth of storm data to draw conclusions. To top it off, the computer models scientists use to study climate crunch numbers on a scale of centuries at a time. "Ideally, you'd like data sets that go back several hundred years," says Philip Arkin, deputy director of the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. "But they just don't exist. The U.S. data go back 50 years. Before World War II, it's very difficult to come up with good numbers. We have some data on heavy rain events before 1900, but there's nothing useful."
尽管这样,气象学家收集的有关极端性气候事件的统计数据,还不足以证实天气正越变越糟。根据他们的定义,极端性气候事件并不经常发生,而没有人收集的可靠的科学数据 ,在时间上长到足以弄清极端性气候事件怎样的频率才算正常的问题。例如,一场百年一遇的风暴也许需要两千年间的风暴数据,才能得出结论。为了得出结论,科学家研究气候所用的计算机模型每一次都需要以世纪为级别来处理数据。纽约拉蒙特-多尔蒂地球观测站国际天气预报研究所副主任菲利普?阿尔金说,“理想的状况是,你最好拥有数百年的数据。但根本就没有 这样的数据。美国有五十年前的数据。二战以前则很难弄到理想的数据。我们有一些1900年以前的暴雨灾害的数据,但派不上用场。”
 
Even if scientists could find good numbers, computer resolution is still too coarse to be able to forecast how something as simple as warming might affect climate in specific spots on the globe. The smallest amount of space on land, sea, ice, and air that scientists can study is about the size of Virginia. If they crank up the resolution by 50 percent to focus on an area half that size, they pay for it in computing time - a calculation that took 10 days to perform might now need three months.
即使科学家们能够找到可用的数据,但由于计算机演算解析率仍然太粗糙,无法预测象天气变暖这样一个如此简单的变化会对地球上某个特定地点的气候产生怎样的影响。科学家们在陆上、海上、冰层及大气中能够研究的最小的的范围,相当于弗吉尼亚州的大小。如果他们想研究上述一半大小的区域,提高50%的解析率,那么代价就是计算时间。先前十天的计算现在也许要三个月。
Keith Dixon, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in New Jersey, recalls once he was being asked precisely what global warming would mean for state ski resorts. More snow? (Good.) Or more rain? (Bad.) "I can understand why businesspeople or politicians ask. If you want to cut fuel, spend money, and make decisions, you need to know why you should be doing this." Adds his colleague, Tom Knutson: "I can certainly sympathize with them. But we can't answer it."
新泽西国家海洋和大气局大气物理流体动力学实验室气象学研究人员基思?迪克森回忆说,有一次有人问全球变暖对各州的滑雪胜地具体意味着什么。会下更多的雪?(好。)或者雨量会增加?(不好。)“我明白为什么商人或政界人士要问这些问题。如果你要减少燃料、投资以及做决策,你得知道你为什么要做这些。”他的同事汤姆?克努特森补充说:“当然我很同情他们,但是我们无法回答这个问题。”
Since 1995, the literature has suggested that there could be fewer frosts, more heat waves, more droughts, more intense rainfalls, tropical cyclones, and hurricanes in the 21st century when and if CO2 levels double. But these projections rank low on the confidence scale because scientists cannot say definitively if and how the events might occur.
1995年以来,文献显示,二氧化碳的含量翻番时或如果翻番,那么21世纪则意味着霜冻减少,更多的热浪、旱灾,更多的降水、热带气旋和飓风。但是这些预测都底气不足,因为科学家不能肯定这些会不会发生以及如何发生。
All of which doesn't do the average citizen much good. He doesn't worry about 30-to-100-year shifts in the climate. What gets him is day-to-day weather: "This heat's killing me." "Crops have failed here five years in a row." "There have been three bad tornadoes in as many weeks." We live in a society uniquely privileged to learn about weather events - and to fear them. The Center for Media and Public Affairs, a watchdog group based in Washington, D.C., reports that media coverage of weather disasters more than doubled from 1997 to 1998 alone.
这一切不能给普通公民带来什么实惠。他并不关心30-100年跨度的气候变化,他只在意每天的天气:“我要热死了。”“连续五年这儿的庄稼收成都不好。”“三周内刮了三次糟糕的龙卷风。”我们生活在这样一个社会中,有独一无二的特权来知悉天气事件以及畏惧它们。设在华盛顿特区的一个监察组织媒体与公共事务中心报道说,仅1997至1998年一年间,媒体关于灾难性天气的报道就增加了一倍多。
Probably as a result, people are starting to blame harsh weather on global warming. Po
 

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