The Science of Extremes

Document Type


Publication Date



"Extreme is a word that can send a climate communicator directly into the swamp: the word extreme is inherently a bit alarming, and vague enough to warrant a multi-sentence qualification when you use it. Even scientists disagree on what this word means and in which context it is appropriate. The major issue with the word, “extreme”, is that it has too many uses, but little distinction between them. For the purpose of this explanation, I’ll speak in the context of global temperature as it relates to body temperature, since it is the most commonly discussed climate change topic. Keep in mind, these concepts related to the word extreme are fully applicable to other environmental factors like precipitation, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and ocean pH."


This blog post was originally published in Climate Interpreter in July 2019.


Climate Interpreter and Monterey Bay Aquarium