Environment

More than just a weather forecast

Meteorologists are starting to talk about climate change

January 6, 2021
A color satellite image of Hurricane Delta swirling above the Gulf Coast
Hurricane Delta approaching the Gulf Coast in October 2020. [Credit: Visible Earth/NASA]

2020 was another record-breaking year of storms and wildfires in the United States. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, reports of fiery skies above California and “unsurvivable” storm surges in Louisiana can feel like apocalyptic icing on a hellish cake.

So how do meteorologists decide what to say about extreme weather? And as the climate changes, are weather reports changing too?

TV weathercasters are trusted messengers for many American families — including Casey Crownhart’s family in Birmingham, Alabama. Her state often experiences hurricanes and tornadoes, and the local weatherman is something of a celebrity. But the job is far from simple.

In this Scienceline audio story, climate scientist Jennifer Francis, weather reporter Andrew Freedman and TV meteorologist-turned-advocate Bernadette Woods-Placky tell Scienceline how they think about — and talk about — weather and its connections to climate change.

Music by Jahzzar, Scott Joplin, Komiku and Caffeine Creek Band.

You can also listen to this episode of the Scienceline podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify or Stitcher.

About the Author

Delger Erdenesanaa

Delger is a science journalist based in Massachusetts and New York. She writes about climate change, ecology, agriculture and the outdoors. Before becoming a journalist she worked in environmental policy and studied Earth science.

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