ORNL, Stanford predict big upswing in climate disasters

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OAK RIDGE, Ten. (WVLT) - Scientists from Oak Ridge National Lab say extreme weather is becoming more common. In fact, Dr. Moet Ashfaq says that's been trending upward for the last several decades.

A new report from ORNL predicts a doubling in hotter days, droughts and downpours.

"Planted acreage that just flat-out washed away. You know the seeds were just washed into the river," Brent Manning, co-owner and co-founder of Riverbend Malt House said.

Money and hard work washed away. Riverbend Malt House sources its winter barley right here.

Manning said his prices are jumping for the nearly 200 breweries he serves with malted barley and beer grains. he said some barley suppliers are simply running out.

That’s where researchers at ORNL,Stanford and a federal weather and climate laborartory (NCAR) are helping.

"Not only do we have an increase in hot weather, extreme precipitation (and) stronger droughts, but we also tell that there is not much decrease in say, cold weather," Dr. Ashfaq said.

Cold snaps will still impact farmers. Dr. Ashfaq says we know why.

"This trend you are seeing in the recent decades is likely driven by humans," Dr. Ashfaq said.

The computational climatologist used the Titan supercomputer to predict hot days, the coldest nights, floods and dry spells.

"We expect that the exposures that humans have today, that would double by 2050," Dr. Ashfaq said. "Nearly every third human living in the US would be directly impacted by the climate extremes every year."

That omen has businessmen like Manning working hard.

"We’re trying to develop new barley varieties to keep up with the changes in our climate," Manning said.

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