Other critics, he said, accuse climate scientists of underselling the situation and being beholden to oil interests. “There’s this notion, ironically, that there’s some gravy train for scientists,” he said.
In fact, he said, he earns less than $100,000 per year at U.C.L.A.’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, where he is evaluated on his academic research and publication, not his public communication. His online “office hours,” during which he explains current extreme weather to journalists, colleagues and members of the public, are mostly unpaid.
The ARkStorm scenario was first modeled in 2010, and the term stands for “atmospheric river 1,000-year storm,” referring to an event initially considered so unlikely that the U.S. Geological Survey viewed it as a one-in-1,000-year event. Dr. Swain and a colleague, Xingying Huang, now believe that climate change has increased the odds of a California megaflood so dramatically that most Californians can now expect to experience one.
Ms. Langlois said her ARkStorm post had been inspired by a meteorology enthusiast — a “risk manager/broker by day, weather junkie by night,” according to his bio — who, earlier in the day, had described this week’s forecast using the term.
“I’m just a layperson, one of hundreds of millions in this country, watching scary, extreme weather become the new normal,” she explained in an email. “I shared information that I thought people needed in a way that I hoped would help people grasp the seriousness of this potential threat.”