Global warming 'playing out in real time' say scientists

The major European heatwave of 2003 was among the first events to be linked to human induced climate change which had made the event 500% more likely.

Global warming has increased odds of heatwave twofold
Global warming has increased odds of heatwave twofold

The impact of global warming is playing out in real time, according to scientists.

Researchers from the World Weather Attribution group found that in the weather stations in the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark, climate change has generally increased the odds of the current heatwave by more than two-fold.

The major European heatwave of 2003 was among the first events to be linked though it took scientists several years to conclude that human induced climate change had made the event 500% more likely.

Recent attributions studies are much faster - just last year scientists concluded that the flooding in Houston, Texas was made 38% more likely by climate change while the so-called "Lucifer" heatwave in Eastern Europe was made ten times more likely.

Climate change resulting from human activities made the current Europe-wide heatwave more than twice as likely to occur, say scientists

Researchers compared the current high temperatures with historical records from seven weather stations, in different parts of Europe.

Their preliminary report found that the "signal of climate change is unambiguous," in this summer's heat.

They also say the scale of the heatwave in the Arctic is unprecedented.

One thing the researchers can't say right now is whether the high pressure system that has been blocked over Europe for almost two months was caused by climate change. The scientists say they will address this question when they formally publish their findings in a scientific journal later this year.

The current heatwave has been caused by an extraordinary stalling of the jet stream wind, which usually funnels cool Atlantic weather over the continent. This has left hot, dry air in place for two months – far longer than than usual. The stalling of the northern hemisphere jet stream is being increasingly firmly linked to global warming, in particular to the rapid heating of the Arctic and resulting loss of sea ice.

 

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