Climate Change Linked to Summer’s Soaring Temperatures
Have you felt the heat?
This year’s heat wave has impacted many parts of the world from the Middle East to Europe to Canada and scientists say this ‘extreme’ weather could soon be the norm.
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The heat wave is partly due to the luck of the weather. A jet stream, which is the west-to-east winds, play a big part in determining Europe’s weather and it has been further north than usual for approximately two months.
A stationary high-pressure weather system has left the UK and much of continental Europe roasting. Whereas in Iceland they have been hit with clouds and storms that would typically come further south.
It’s possible that the jet stream’s northerly position was influenced by temperatures in the north of the Atlantic, which have been relatively warm in the subtropics and colder south of Greenland.
Len Shaffrey, a professor of climate science at the University of Reading explained that the present hot and dry spell in the UK is partly a result of the combination of North Atlantic ocean temperatures, climate change and the weather.
However, the influence of climate change on the jet stream is still being looked into.
But, when it comes to the heatwaves in the northern hemisphere, they are undoubtedly connected to global warming, according to scientists. For instance, Prof Myles Allen, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford stated that there’s no question human influence on climate is playing a significant role in this heatwave.
Similar heatwaves had occurred in the past when the planet was cooler. In fact, the world was two-thirds of a degree Celsius cooler in 1976, which was still a notably hot year in the UK. However, climate change made this happen more often, according to Allen.
Furthermore, Prof Peter Stott, a science fellow at the Met Office, added that global warming of 1C since the industrial revolution is apparently making the extreme heat more likely, stating that the temperatures of 30C (86F) and above have gone from being an infrequent occurrence to, not a frequent occurrence, but much more likely.
Global warming can also be seen as the culprit because the heatwave is widespread across four continents. As Stott said, that pattern is something we wouldn’t see without climate change.
There are many reasons to worry about climate change. For example, wildfires, such as those that have taken place recently in northern England, are one reason to be concerned. As Stott explained the moorland fires is an example of an impact that comes with such prolonged heatwaves.
Moreover, the elderly are susceptible to extreme heat, and 20,000 people were believed to have died across Europe in the 2003 heatwave. Transport infrastructure also suffers as rail lines can buckle.
There is also a significant short-term impact on agriculture. For instance, Shaffrey said the hot, dry spell was wreaking havoc on farming and heatwaves in other countries will probably cut yields of crops that the UK imports, which will drive up prices.
This year’s heat wave is a sign of things to come. As Michael Mann, a US climate scientist tweeted: what we call an ‘extreme heatwave’ today we will simply call ‘summer’ in mere decades if we do not substantially reduce carbon emissions.
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