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Scientists say extreme heatwaves will become the new normal

Climate experts described recent temperature record as a harbinger of rising risks to lives and livelihoods for at least the next 30 years.


Young beautiful blonde caucasian woman smiling happy outdoors on a sunny day using handfan for hot weather
(Desizned via Shutterstock)

By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Britain's record 104°F temperatures will be the norm within three decades, according to new research.

The study warns that extreme heatwaves will increase by more than 30 percent in the coming years.

They are being fueled by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, say scientists.

Tuesday was the hottest ever recorded in the UK, with the mercury surpassing 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

It serves as an early preview of what climate forecasters believe will be typical summer weather - in 2050.

Wildfires have swept Europe and the US, where more than a third of the country is under heat warnings.

Now, an analysis of atmospheric circulation patterns and greenhouse gases suggests the crisis is worse than feared.

It was based on data from just over a year ago when nearly 1,500 people died as average temperatures in the US and Canada more than doubled.

Co-author Dr. Chunzai Wang, of the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, said: "An extraordinary and unprecedented heatwave swept western North America in late June of 2021.

"It resulted in hundreds of deaths and a massive die-off of sea creatures off the coast as well as horrific wildfires.

"In this paper, we studied the physical processes of internal variability, such as atmospheric circulation patterns, and external forcing, such as anthropogenic (manmade) greenhouse gases."

The findings in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences shed fresh light on the current heatwave - in the UK.

They also show temperatures will continue to rise - leading to more frequent extreme heatwaves.

Computer simulations found greenhouse gases are the main reason for increased temperatures in the past - and will likely continue to be the main contributing factor.

Atmospheric circulation patterns describe how air flows and influences surface temperatures around the planet.

Both can change based on natural warming from the sun, intrinsic atmospheric processes and Earth's rotation.

These configurations are responsible for daily weather, as well as long-term patterns comprising climate.

Using observational data and climate models, the researchers identified three specific ocean temperature phenomena during the 2021 heatwaves.

They are known as the North Pacific, Arctic-Pacific Canada, and the North America patterns - and accelerate human-induced warming.

Wang said: "The North Pacific pattern and the Arctic-Pacific Canada pattern co-occurred with the development and mature phases of the heatwave, whereas the North America pattern coincided with the decaying and eastward movements of the heatwave.

"This suggests the heatwave originated from the North Pacific and the Arctic, while the North America pattern ushered the heatwave out."

But they have overlapped before - without triggering an extreme heatwave. Dr Wang and colleagues used state-of-the-art programs known as CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6.

He added: "From the CMIP6 models, we found it is likely global warming associated with greenhouse gases influences these three atmospheric circulation pattern variabilities, which, in turn, led to a more extreme heatwave event.

"If appropriate measures are not taken, the occurrence probability of extreme heatwaves will increase and further impact the ecological balance, as well as sustainable social and economic development."

The 104°F landmark was reached for the first time in the UK, at Heathrow airport. The previous record of 101.6 °C in 2019, fell when 102.3°F was recorded at Charlwood in Surrey.

Tuesday's soaring temperatures came after the hottest night on record. The highest minimum temperature in a 24-hour period was recorded in Kenley, south London, of 25.8°C (78.4 °F) in the 24 hours to 10 A.M.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps admitted it would take decades to make road and rail infrastructure resilient enough to cope.

Climate experts described the temperature record as a harbinger of rising risks to lives and livelihoods for at least the next 30 years.

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