‘When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.’
— Hunter S. Thompson
Bandar Mahshahr is no stranger to heat. It is not uncommon for this northern Iranian hamlet to experience consistent highs above 45 degrees Celsius during the summer. But, when the heat index topped 74 degrees Celsius (165 degrees Fahrenheit), which was the second highest heat index ever recorded globally, the world took notice. Bandar Mahshahr is now inextricably linked to the extreme impacts of global warming. For years, reports have warned that extremes would overtake the global climate system, and this inhospitable ‘normal’ ripe with ‘heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires’ would become ‘the new reality of an ever warming world.’ However, just because we have been told to expect more extremes does not mean that we have, or will gain, the capacity to forecast and/or mitigate them. Indeed, the causal relations underlying the global climate system are decidedly complex, and climate change is complicating things further. As noted in Nature:
Extreme weather and changing weather patterns – the obvious manifestations of global climate change – do not simply reflect easily identifiable changes in Earth’s energy balance such as a rise in atmospheric temperature. They usually have complex causes, involving anomalies in atmospheric circulation, levels of soil moisture and the like. Solid understanding of these factors is crucial if researchers are to improve the performance of, and confidence in, the climate models on which event attribution and longer-term climate projections depend.