Study says Canada heat wave would have been ‘almost impossible’ without climate change | Climate and environment

The extraordinary heat wave that affected southwestern Canada and the northwestern United States last week with record temperatures was “almost impossible” if the planet had not been engulfed in a process of climate change fueled by human-ejected greenhouse gases. It concludes with a quick analysis prepared by scholars from Refer the weather in the world (WWA), an international group dedicated to analyzing the impact of global warming on extreme weather events. The researchers warned that as climate change accelerates, exotic events such as this one will be “much less rare.”

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A heat wave off the Pacific coast of North America, which has killed hundreds of people and accompanied by severe wildfires, has broken out of all historical temperature charts. Because, as the authors of this report point out, it is not normal for the temperature to exceed 45 degrees at the latitudes where the heat wave occurred.

In the small Canadian town of Leyton (with a population of about 250 people and at a latitude similar to Berlin), 49.6 degrees were recorded, according to the local press – in Spain, the temperature record in 2017 was recorded in Montoro (Córdoba) and was 47.3 degrees. “The observed temperatures were so extreme that they are far from the historically observed temperature range,” the authors of this quick analysis explain.

Reports that attribute extreme events to climate change often analyze the data to see how likely they are in the absence of global warming. In the case of a heat wave off the Pacific coast of the United States and Canada, it was 150 times more likely to occur due to climate change.

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Dozens sleep in an air-conditioned facility during an unprecedented heat wave in Portland, Oregon, in the United States, on June 27.
Marani Stub/Reuters

“Climate change is making extremely rare events like this more frequent. We are entering uncharted territory.” Sonia Seneviratne, of the Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences in Zurich, and one of the authors of the analysis, explained that temperatures in Canada last week would have been record-breaking in Las Vegas. or Spain.

The researchers also concluded that this heat wave was about two degrees warmer than it would have been if it had occurred at the start of the Industrial Revolution, that is, before humans began using fossil fuels on a large scale. gas emissions.

When the heat wave was still active, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) had already warned that it was an “exceptional and dangerous” phenomenon. The WMO did not establish a direct relationship between this phenomenon and climate change, but remembered that scientific studies indicate an increase in waves due to global warming.

The WWA researchers are insisting on the same idea when they note that as warming progresses, waves like last week will be less rare. These scientists argue that the climate crisis is leading humanity to a new scenario that “has dire consequences for health, well-being and lifestyle”. That is why they are calling for measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of currently irreversible warming so that society is prepared “for a completely different future.”

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Sacha Woodward

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