Heatwaves in Europe and North America are “nearly impossible” without climate change

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Heatwaves that hit North America and Europe in July would have been “virtually impossible without climate change,” researchers said, stressing that extreme weather events will occur with greater frequency.

The research group World Weather Attribution, an academic collaboration, added that human-induced warming made the recent extreme heat in China “at least 50 times more likely.”

Events such as the record-breaking July coincidental temperatures can now be expected roughly “once every 15 years in North America, about once every 10 years in southern Europe and about once every five years in China,” the WWA said in a report on Tuesday. The group found that about 75 percent of the extreme weather events it assessed recently had become more likely or severe due to climate change.

If the world’s temperature rises by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, “events such as… [the recent heatwaves] It will become more frequent, occurring every two to five years,” said the team of six researchers from the UK and the Netherlands.

The 2016 Paris Agreement commits countries to strive to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. However, the world has already warmed by at least 1.1°C, and current climate pledges put it on track for a warming of between 2.4°C and 2.6°C by 2100, according to the United Nations.

“The result of this attribution study is not surprising,” said Frederic Otto, senior lecturer in climate sciences at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment and author of the report. “The world has not stopped burning fossil fuels, the climate continues to warm and heat waves continue to become more extreme.”

It is clear to scientists that extreme weather events, including heatwaves, will become more frequent and intense with every bit of warming.

The Academy, which assesses the impact of climate change on weather-related disasters, including floods, fires and heatwaves, found in 38 of the 52 studies it conducted that warming increased the likelihood or severity of events.

After the hottest month of June globally, large areas of the United States, Mexico, Europe and China experienced sweltering heat in July. The World Meteorological Organization said preliminary data indicated that the beginning of July was the “hottest week on record”.

Temperatures exceeded 50 degrees Celsius in California’s Death Valley, while parts of China and Europe also hit records. Heat-related deaths have been reported in countries such as the United States, Mexico and Italy, and wildfires have raged in parts of Greece, prompting the evacuation of tourists on some islands such as Corfu and Rhodes.

Heatwaves are no longer rare, the WWA said, but they would have been “extremely rare” were it not for human or man-made warming.

A Graphic Showing How Future Generations Will Face Global Warming

The WWA found that recent heatwaves have been about 2.5°C warmer in southern Europe than they would have been without climate change, 2°C warmer in North America and 1°C warmer in China.

“Unless the world quickly stops burning fossil fuels, these events will become more common and the world will experience much hotter and longer-lasting heat waves,” the researchers said.

Scientists analyzed the data and simulated computer models to compare today’s climate to past weather patterns.

They looked at average extreme temperatures over seven days in southern Europe, more than 18 days in the western US, Texas and northern Mexico, and more than 14 days over lowlands in China — when the heat was most dangerous in every region.

Video: How climate-friendly innovations can cool cities | Capital FT

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