Research shows that record-breaking heatwaves, worse than those which hit north-west America recently, are likely to continue in the future. This study is a warning sign of the increasing dangers posed by the climate emergency to people's lives.
Scientists said that the shocking temperatures experienced in Australia's north-west and Pacific North-West in 2019-2020 was exactly what they were referring to. They said that the world has yet to experience the worst effects of global warming, even though it had seen some.
Research found that extremes of record breaking proportions are more likely to be experienced in highly populated areas in North America, Europe, and China. The computer models used in this study produced an illustration of a heatwave that saw temperatures 18C higher in some areas in middle-northern America than the average.
Scientists said it was crucial to prepare for extreme heat events because they could lead to thousands of premature deaths. Adaptation efforts have often relied on past heat records.
Scientists know that heatwaves like the ones we see today will increase as climate change unfolds. Heatwaves are often compared with past heatwaves, meaning that the majority of them are just marginally warmer than the previous. This can create a false impression of an increase in records temperatures.
Instead, the new computing modelling study looked at the best margins by which future heatwave records of up to a week were possible.
The study found that heatwaves which smash records by 5C are two to seven times more common in the next 30 years, and three to 21 percent more likely starting at 20512080 if carbon emissions are not immediately reduced. Global heating is essential to prevent extreme heatwaves.
According to Erich Fischer (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), the vulnerability of North America and Europe was remarkable. These are the most extreme jumps in record-breaking events. He said that this is very worrying.
Because of the danger inherent in only looking at the past records, many places have not seen anything comparable to what is possible.
Soldiers assess the damage caused by the flood of the River Ahr in Rech, Ahrweiler on 21 July. Photograph: Friedemann Vogel/EPA
Also, the study showed that record-breaking events can occur in sudden bursts rather than becoming more frequent. Fischer stated that this is very concerning. While it would still be alarming to plan for heatwaves of 0.1C or more every two-three years, it would be much simpler to do so.
Professor Michael Mann from Pennsylvania State University, the US, stated that the study was not part of the new research. Mann's research in May revealed that heat stress could double in the US by 2100.
He said that if anything, the latest study and ours are underestimating the possibility of deadly heat extremes in future in the absence significant climate action. This is because current climate models don't capture the slow-moving, persistent nature of extreme weather phenomena such as the recent German floods and the Pacific north-west heatwave.
New research published in Nature Climate Change concluded that while record-breaking extremes are not currently possible, their probability in the next three decades increases rapidly.
The rate of global warming was more important than the global temperature. This means that drastic cuts in emissions must be made as soon as possible.
Scientists used a scenario where carbon emissions were not reduced. Experts have said that this is unrealistic considering climate change is taking place. The researchers claim that the scenario is still relevant as long as CO2 emissions continue to fall, except for the temporary blip from the coronavirus pandemic.
Researchers said that rare events with record-breaking impacts in the past had enormous effects, such as the Russian heatwave which killed 55,000 people, decimated $15bn of crops and left behind $15bn worth of crops. The European heatwave which caused 70,000 deaths early in its aftermath, was also mentioned.
According to Vikki Thompson from Bristol University, the UK, climate change is clearly affecting the planet. In the past month, temperature records were smashed in North America, and there have been devastating floods in Europe, China, and Europe. It is crucial to be able to adapt to the future by understanding what might happen.
She said that the good news is that it's possible to prevent the worst-case scenario shown in the study. The study found that if emissions begin to fall rapidly and immediately, the risk for record-breaking extremes can be reduced by around 80%. Thompson stated that Cop26 is imminent and we should hope that policymakers will use this evidence to support the need for global emission reductions.