NNOCCI Webinar: Framing Extreme Weather Events

Extreme weather events often spark conversations about climate change.  Terms like Snowmageddon, Polar Vortex, Weather Bomb, Derecho, Firenado, Storm of the Century drive the public to ask, “What is going on with our weather”?

It’s important for us to use NNOCCI communication tools to ensure the conversations are scientifically accurate, well-framed and spark civic actions. Our Science Partnership Committee assembled a great panel of speakers to help all of us stay at the top of our game for when the next event comes around the corner!


NOTE: Webinar content starts at 00:19:10 and a final question about temperatures and cyclones is resolved just before 01:22:00.


Frame Elements for the Science Presented in this Webinar:

Ocean-Climate Impacts

  • In order to protect our ocean, we need to understand that it is not a static environment. We know that the ocean and the atmosphere touch across 70% of the planet’s surface, exchanging heat and gases in several natural cycles. One of these natural cycles is the carbon cycle where “Regular” carbon dioxide is used and created by normal life processes. However, humans have been creating “Rampant” levels of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas for energy. Today we have learned about several ocean-climate impacts that are being exacerbated by these “rampant” levels of CO2. We need to reduce rampant CO2 because it’s getting out of control and lending to all sorts of issues in the atmosphere and ocean. What local, community-level solution can you think of in your area that might help empower your audiences to reduce their rampant CO2 emissions to better protect the ocean?

Tropical Cyclones

  • Looking into the future, we need to make plans to responsibly manage our resources. This includes planning for impacts of changing ocean and weather conditions. Today we have learned about how changes in the temperature and amount of moisture in the atmosphere impact the intensity of tropical cyclones. We know that just as a heart circulates blood and regulates the body’s temperature, the ocean controls the circulation of heat and moisture throughout the climate system. As we learned from Dr. Hill’s presentation on Ocean-Climate Interactions, rampant CO2 is putting stress on natural ocean cycles. As a result of this stress, sometimes the ocean pumps too much heat and moisture throughout the system, sometimes too little. We can work to reduce this stress by responsibly managing our energy use through burning fewer fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas.


  • When we burn fossil fuels for energy, we add more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This buildup acts like a blanket that traps heat around the world, which disrupts the climate. The key part of this for the case of wildfires, particularly in California, is the disruption to the climate. When we want to protect the people, places, and things we care about we need to make sure that on a civic level we are participating in the process that allows us to work together in areas of land-use planning and where population centers are being based. There are many different ways that we can actively work in our communities to participate in ways to protect the spaces that we care about and live in. These can range from being engaged in city council meetings to voting on local measures related to land-use to how we use energy.
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