Global heatwaves are pushing people and nations 'to the edge'

Millions of Americans are again struggling with dangerous heat. Warm air blanketed Europe last weekend, causing feelings in parts of Fr...


Millions of Americans are again struggling with dangerous heat. Warm air blanketed Europe last weekend, causing feelings in parts of France and Spain as usual in July or August. High temperatures burned north and central China even as heavy rains caused flooding in the south of the country. Some places in India have come to know extraordinary heat in March, although the onset of the monsoon rains brought some relief.

It is too early to say whether climate change is directly responsible for causing severe heat waves in these four economic powers – which also happen to be the main emitters of heat-trapping gases – around the same time, some days after the start of summer.

As global warming makes extreme heat more common around the world, further analysis is needed to tell scientists whether specific weather events have been made more likely or more intense due to human-induced warming. (A team of researchers who studied the devastating heat of this spring in India found that climate change had made it 30 times more likely to occur.)

Even so, simultaneous heat waves seem to be hitting some clusters of remote locations with increasing frequency lately, for reasons related to the jet stream and other rivers of air that influence weather systems around the world. .

Studies have shown that parts of North America, Europe and Asia are linked in this way. Scientists are still trying to work out how these patterns might change as the planet warms further, but for now that means simultaneous extreme temperatures will likely continue to affect those places where much of the activity is concentrated. global economy.

“To have a heat wave, we need heat, and we need the atmospheric circulation pattern that allows heat to build up,” said Daniel E. Horton, a climatologist at Northwestern University. With global warming, he said, “we’re definitely getting more heat.” But climate change may also affect how that heat is distributed around the world by air currents around the globe, he said.

The simultaneous extreme weather conditions in many places are not just meteorological curiosities. Individual heat waves can cause sickness and death, forest fires and crop failures. Simultaneous can threaten global food supplywho have been under perilous stump this year because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While heat waves are shaped by local factors such as urbanization and land use, scientists no longer doubt that climate change is making them worse. Soon, the world’s most devastating heat waves may simply have no historical analogue since when humans began pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, some scientists arguerendering obsolete the question of whether climate change is a primary factor.

The warming of the past few decades has already made it difficult for scientists to know what to call a heat wave and what to treat simply as a new normal for hot weather, said Texas A&M University climatologist Andrew Dessler.

If the threshold for a heat wave is just the mercury rising above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for consecutive days, for example, it’s “not at all unexpected,” Dr. Dessler said, to see them occurring more regularly in multiple regions at once. “Over time, more and more of the planet will experience these temperatures, until eventually, with sufficient global warming, every land area from the northern hemisphere to mid-latitudes exceeds 100 degrees,” he said. -he declares.

Yet even when scientists look at how often temperatures exceed a certain level relative to a moving average, they still see a sharp increase in the frequency of simultaneous heat waves.

A recent study who did this revealed that the average number of days between May and September with at least one major northern hemisphere heat wave doubled between the 1980s and 2010s, from 73 to around 152. But the number days with two or more heat waves was seven times higher, from about 143 to 20. That’s almost every day from May to September.

The study also found that these simultaneous heat waves affected larger areas and were more severe in the 2010s, with peak intensities that were almost a fifth higher than in the 1980s. had at least one major heat wave somewhere in the northern hemisphere, there were 3.6 per day on average, according to the study.

These “dramatic” increases came as a surprise, said Deepti Singh, a climatologist at Washington State University and author of the study.

Dr. Singh and his co-authors also looked at where concurrent heat waves occurred most frequently over those four decades. One pattern stood out: large simultaneous heatwaves increasingly hit parts of eastern North America, Europe, and central and eastern Asia between 1979 and 2019 – “more than we would expect just from the warming effect,” Dr Singh said.

The study did not attempt to predict whether heat waves in this pattern will become more frequent as global warming continues, she said.

Scientists are working to determine how the meandering jet stream, which has long shaped weather patterns for billions of people, might change in this era of warming. One of the factors is the rapid warming of the Arctic, which is reducing the temperature difference between the northern and southern bands of the northern hemisphere. How exactly could this affect extreme weather conditions is still a subject of debate.

But these temperature differences are key forces that drive the winds that keep weather systems moving around the planet. As temperature differences narrow, these air currents can slow down, said Kai Kornhuber, a climatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. This means extreme events like heat waves and heavy showers are likely to last longer.

“The longer a heat wave lasts, the more you push natural and societal systems to the limit,” Dr Kornhuber said.

Climate change already means the world will see more extreme weather events, and more extremes occurring simultaneously, he said. “These circulation changes, they will act additionally,” he said, “and make the extremes even more severe and even more frequent.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Global heatwaves are pushing people and nations 'to the edge'
Global heatwaves are pushing people and nations 'to the edge'
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