Heatwave made more than twice as likely by climate change

The heatwave searing northern Europe was made more than twice as likely by climate change, according to a rapid assessment by scientists

The result is preliminary but they say the signal of climate change is “unambiguous”. Scientists have long predicted that global warming is ramping up the number and intensity of heatwaves, with events even worse than current one set to strike every other year by the 2040s. “The logic that climate change will do this is inescapable – the world is becoming warmer, and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common,” said Friederike Otto, at the University of Oxford and part of the World Weather Attribution (WWA) consortium that did the work. “What was once regarded as unusually warm weather will become commonplace, and in some cases, it already has,” she said. “So this is something that society can and should prepare for. But equally there is no doubt that we can and should constrain the increasing likelihood of all kinds of extreme weather events by restricting greenhouse gas emissions as sharply as possible.”

Across northern Europe, the group found global warming more than doubled the risk of scorching temperatures. “We can can see the fingerprints of climate change on local extremes,” he said. “It is amazing now that it is something you can really see at a local level.”

“Most heatwave studies have been done on large scale averages, so European-wide temperatures,” said Otto. “In this study, we have looked at individual locations, where people live, to represent the heatwave people are actually experiencing.” The analysis is a preliminary study as a full study requires many climate models to be run on high-powered computers, which takes months. Previous attribution analyses have shown very strong connections between climate change and extreme weather events. The scorching summer in New South Wales, Australia, in 2016-17 was made at least 50 times more likely by global warming, meaning it can be “linked directly to climate change”, said the scientists (source: The Guardian www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/27/heatwave-made-more-than-twice-as-likely-by-climate-change-scientists-find).