This paper by Martin Beniston on recent temperature extremes is a great example of the sort of exercise we need at the regional scale to help societies think about climate change. Switzerland has been hotter than Hades lately (bonkers 2003, record July 2006, near record winter 2006-07). Attribution is tricky, but Beniston neatly sidesteps the attribution problem and looks merely at how Switzerland’s recent experience fits into what the models say. The result is that the sort of temperatures they’ve been experiencing are the sort of temperatures suggested by the models under greenhouse warming. So, whatever the cause, we can learn from them:
By analyzing the impacts that these extreme conditions currently impose on environmental (e.g., the cryosphere, hydrological systems, and the biosphere) and socio-economic systems (e.g., human health, agriculture, hydropower), analogies with the future can be drawn for timely decision-making in terms of risk-reduction and adaptation strategies.