Dusty air blowing across the Pacific from Asia and Africa is playing a critical role in precipitation patterns throughout the drought-stricken western U.S.

The exact chemical make-up of that dust, including microbes found in it, is the key to how much rain and snow falls from clouds throughout the region and knowing this could help better predict rain events, as well as explain how air pollution from a variety of sources influences regional climate in general.

Weather extremes have been linked to a recently discovered mechanism: the trapping of giant waves in the atmosphere.

A new data analysis now shows that such wave-trapping events are indeed on the rise.  One reason could be changes in circulation patterns in the atmosphere. By analyzing large sets of global weather data, the researchers found an intriguing connection.  

Rossby Waves: meandering airstreams

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations geographically-chosen group of climate researchers, is the most high-profile science body in the world. Publicly they state that short-term weather events not be linked to climate change, since if every heat wave is called proof of global warming, every snowstorm will be called proof against it.

Despite UN cautions, numerous papers still link short-term weather events to climate change. In Climate Dynamics,
Florida State University geography professor

In California, wildfires happen thousands of times per year, even in non-drought years. They happened long before climate change concerns but not factoring wildfires into simplistic parameter-based models of climate change meant we were not getting an accurate picture of the atmospheric reality.

NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite known as TRMM flew directly over the eye of powerful Hurricane Iselle and found extremely heavy rainfall rates occurring there.

Sulfur signals in the Antarctic snow have revealed the importance of overlooked atmospheric chemistry for understanding climate, past and future.

The element sulfur is everywhere and occurs in four stable forms, or isotopes, each with a slightly different mass. Ordinary reactions incorporate sulfur isotopes into molecules according to mass. But sometimes sulfur divvies up differently so that the relative ratios of the different isotopes is anomalous. The authors of a new paper measured the direction and degree of that anomaly for individual layers of snow representing a single season's snowfall.

Climate models predicted that the equatorial Pacific trade winds should weaken with increasing greenhouse gases, yet satellites and climate stations have instead revealed a rapid and unprecedented strengthening of the Pacific trade winds since the 1990s. 

It has long been known that biomass burning – burning forests to create agricultural lands, burning savannah as a ritual , slash-and-burn agriculture and wildfires – figures into both climate change and public health but the degree of that contribution had never been comprehensively quantified and when science gets political, people may not always want to discuss the complete set of issues.

One of the most promising aspects of a Science 2.0 future is not just being able to analyze trillions of data points or getting the public to help with biology, but making more accurate models using much larger data sets. Big data.

Though many people believe that CO2 is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, that honor actually goes to water vapor. NASA has been saying for years that water vapor is the biggest amplifier in global warming, perhaps double the effect of CO2,  and a new study from scientists at the University of Miami confirms rising levels of water vapor in the upper troposphere will intensify climate change impacts over the next decades.