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Even in best-case scenario for climate change, extreme weather events likely to continue to increase, experts say

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/14/2018 Doyle Rice
a person swimming in the water: A person walks through a flooded street with a dog after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. © Joe Raedle, Getty Images A person walks through a flooded street with a dog after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

The landmark Paris Agreement, signed by nearly every nation on Earth except the U.S., aims to keep the world’s temperature from rising to dangerous, climate-shifting levels of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

However, even a 1-degree rise could increase the likelihood of extreme weather —including floods, droughts, and heat waves — in the U.S. and around the world, a new study said.

Even in that best-case scenario of only a 1-degree rise, the probability of extreme climatic events is still likely to increase throughout most of North America, Europe, and East Asia, the study said. The frequency of extreme climate and weather events is already increasing, and many experts say man-made climate change as an important motivating factor.

Keeping the world's temperature to a 1-degree rise is informally known as an "aspirational" target of the Paris agreement, compared to the actual commitment of a 2-degree rise.

"The really big increases in record-setting event probability are reduced if the world achieves the aspirational targets (of the Paris agreement) rather than the actual commitments," said study lead author Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University.

"At the same time, even if those aspirational targets are reached, we still will be living in a climate that has substantially greater probability of unprecedented events than the one we're in now," he said.

The study was released Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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